Development of the electric organ in embryos and larvae of the knifefish, Brachyhypopomus gauderio

Ilham J J Alshami, Yosuke Ono, Ana Correia, Christian Hacker, Anke Lange, Steffen Scholpp, Masashi Kawasaki, Philip W Ingham, Tetsuhiro Kudoh

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3 Citations (SciVal)


South American Gymnotiform knifefish possess electric organs that generate electric fields for electro-location and electro-communication. Electric organs in fish can be derived from either myogenic cells (myogenic electric organ/mEO) or neurogenic cells (neurogenic electric organ/nEO). To date, the embryonic development of EOs has remained obscure. Here we characterize the development of the mEO in the Gymnotiform bluntnose knifefish, Brachyhypopomus gauderio. We find that EO primordial cells arise during embryonic stages in the ventral edge of the tail myotome, translocate into the ventral fin and develop into syncytial electrocytes at early larval stages. We also describe a pair of thick nerve cords that flank the dorsal aorta, the location and characteristic morphology of which are reminiscent of the nEO in Apteronotid species, suggesting a common evolutionary origin of these tissues. Taken together, our findings reveal the embryonic origins of the mEO and provide a basis for elucidating the mechanisms of evolutionary diversification of electric charge generation by myogenic and neurogenic EOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Electric Organ/embryology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian/embryology
  • Gymnotiformes/embryology


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