We review the origins, prominent innovations, and major patterns of diversification in suction feeding by vertebrates. Non-vertebrate chordates and larval lamprey suspension-feed by capturing small particles in pharyngeal mucous. In most of these lineages the gentle flows that transport particles are generated by buccal cilia, although larval lamprey and thaliacean urochordates have independently evolved a weak buccal pump to generate an oscillating flow of water that is powered by elastic recovery of the pharynx following compression by buccal muscles. The evolution of jaws and the hyoid facilitated powerful buccal expansion and high-performance suction feeding as found today throughout aquatic vertebrates. We highlight three major innovations in suction feeding. Most vertebrate suction feeders have mechanisms that occlude the corners of the open mouth during feeding. This produces a planar opening that is often nearly circular in shape. Both features contribute to efficient flow of water into the mouth and help direct the flow to the area directly in front of the mouth's aperture. Among several functions that have been identified for protrusion of the upper jaw, is an increase in the hydrodynamic forces that suction feeders exert on their prey. Protrusion of the upper jaw has evolved five times in ray-finned fishes, including in two of the most successful teleost radiations, cypriniforms and acanthomorphs, and is found in about 60% of living teleost species. Diversification of the mechanisms of suction feeding and of feeding behavior reveals that suction feeders with high capacity for suction rarely approach their prey rapidly, while slender-bodied predators with low capacity for suction show the full range of attack speeds. We hypothesize that a dominant axis of diversification among suction feeders involves a trade-off between the forces that are exerted on prey and the volume of water that is ingested.
Vertebrate muscle development begins with the patterning of the paraxial mesoderm by inductive signals from midline tissues [1, 2]. Subsequent myotome growth occurs by the addition of new muscle fibers. We show that in zebrafish new slow-muscle fibers are first added at the end of the segmentation period in growth zones near the dorsal and ventral extremes of the myotome, and this muscle growth continues into larval life. In marine teleosts, this mechanism of growth has been termed stratified hyperplasia . We have tested whether these added fibers require an embryonic architecture of muscle fibers to support their development and whether their fate is regulated by the same mechanisms that regulate embryonic muscle fates. Although Hedgehog signaling is required for the specification of adaxial-derived slow-muscle fibers in the embryo [4, 5], we show that in the absence of Hh signaling, stratified hyperplastic growth of slow muscle occurs at the correct time and place, despite the complete absence of embryonic slow-muscle fibers to serve as a scaffold for addition of these new slow-muscle fibers. We conclude that slow-muscle-stratified hyperplasia begins after the segmentation period during embryonic development and continues during the larval period. Furthermore, the mechanisms specifying the identity of these new slow-muscle fibers are different from those specifying the identity of adaxial-derived embryonic slow-muscle fibers. We propose that the independence of early, embryonic patterning mechanisms from later patterning mechanisms may be necessary for growth.
Cranial skeletal muscles underlie breathing, eating, and eye movements. In most animals, at least two types of muscle fibers underlie these critical functions: fast and slow muscle fibers. We describe here the anatomical distribution of slow and fast twitch muscle in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) head in the adult and at an early larval stage just after feeding has commenced. We found that all but one of the cranial muscles examined contain both slow and fast muscle fibers, but the relative proportion of slow muscle in each varies considerably. As in the trunk, slow muscle fibers are found only in an anatomically restricted zone of each muscle, usually on the periphery. The relative proportion of slow and fast muscle in each cranial muscle changes markedly with development, with a pronounced decrease in the proportion of slow muscle with ontogeny. We discuss our results in relation to the functional roles of each muscle in larval and adult life and compare findings among a variety of vertebrates.
Functional morphology has benefited greatly from the input of techniques and thinking from other disciplines. This has been especially productive in situations where each discipline has made significant contributions to a particular research topic. A combination of methodologies from functional morphology and developmental biology has allowed us to characterize feeding mechanics of first-feeding larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). Contrary to kinematic patterns commonly seen in adult teleosts, larval zebrafish showed no lateral abduction during the expansive phase of a suction-feeding event. Instead, dorsoventral expansion of the buccal chamber, more typical of patterns seen in primitive fishes, characterized the expansive phase. Moreover, a pronounced preparatory phase during which the buccal chamber is constricted by the protractor hyoideus was consistently seen in first-feeding larval kinematics. Key kinematic variables associated with first feeding correlated significantly with the hydrodynamic regime as measured by the Reynolds number. Using the tools of both functional morphology and developmental biology we have not only determined which cranial muscles are important for successful feeding but also uncovered important physiological differences in muscle structure. Muscles necessary for the rapid dorsoventral expansion of the head are composed primarily of fast-twitch fibers while those involved in more tonic contractions such as hyoid protraction have more slow-twitch muscle fibers. While most evolutionary developmental studies have examined mechanisms responsible for large evolutionary changes in morphology, we propose that the type of data uncovered in functional studies can lead to the generation of hypotheses concerning the developmental mechanisms responsible for smaller intra- and/or interspecific changes.
Cyprinodontiforms are a diverse and speciose order that includes topminnows, pupfishes, swordtails, mosquitofishes, guppies, and mollies. Sister group to the Beloniformes and Atheriniformes, Cyprinodontiformes contains approximately twice the number of species of these other two orders combined. Recent studies suggest that this group is well suited to capturing prey by "picking" small items from the water surface, water column, and the substrate. Because picking places unusual performance demands on the feeding apparatus, this mode of prey capture may rely upon novel morphological modifications not found in more widespread ram- or suction-based feeding mechanisms. To assess this evolutionary hypothesis, we describe the trophic anatomy of 16 cyprinodontiform species, selected to broadly represent the order as well as capture intrageneric variation. The group appears to have undergone gradual morphological changes to become increasingly specialized for picking and scraping behaviors. We also identify a suite of functional characters related to the acquisition of a novel and previously undescribed mechanism of premaxillary protrusion and retraction, including: modification of the "premaxillomandibular" ligament (which connects each side of the premaxilla to the ipsilateral mandible, or lower jaw), a novel architecture of the ligaments and bony elements that unite the premaxillae, maxillae and palatine bones, and novel insertions of the adductor muscles onto the jaws. These morphological changes to both the upper and lower jaws suggest an evolutionary trend within this group toward increased reliance on picking individual prey from the water column/substrate or for scraping encrusting material from the substrate. We propose that the suite of morphological characters described here enable a functional innovation, "picking," which leads to novel trophic habits.
Studies on the evolution of complex biological systems are difficult because the construction of these traits cannot be observed during the course of evolution. Complex traits are defined as consisting of multiple elements, often of differing embryological origins, with multiple linkages integrated to form a single functional unit. An example of a complex system is the cypriniform oral jaw apparatus. Cypriniform fishes possess an upper jaw characterized by premaxillary protrusion during feeding. Cypriniforms effect protrusion via the kinethmoid, a synapomorphy for the order. The kinethmoid is a sesamoid ossification suspended by ligaments attaching to the premaxillae, maxillae, palatines, and neurocranium. Upon mouth opening, the kinethmoid rotates as the premaxillae move anteriorly. Along with bony and ligamentous elements, there are three divisions of the adductor mandibulae that render this system functional. It is unclear how cypriniform jaws evolved because although the evolution of sesamoid elements is common, the incorporation of the kinethmoid into the protrusible jaw results in a function that is atypical for sesamoids. Developmental studies can show how biological systems are assembled within individuals and offer clues about how traits might have been constructed during evolution. We investigated the development of the protrusible upper jaw in zebrafish to generate hypotheses regarding the evolution of this character. Early in development, the adductor mandibulae arises as a single unit. The muscle divides after ossification of the maxillae, on which the A1 division will ultimately insert. A cartilaginous kinethmoid first develops within the intermaxillary ligament; it later ossifies at points of ligamentous attachment. We combine our structural developmental data with published kinematic data at key developmental stages and discuss potential functional advantages in possessing even the earliest stages of a system for protrusion.
Filter feeding fishes possess several morphological adaptations necessary to capture and concentrate small particulate matter from the water column. Filter feeding teleosts typically employ elongated and tightly packed gill rakers with secondary bony or epithelial modifications that increase filtering efficiency. The gill rakers of Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, silver carp, are anatomically distinct from and more complex than the filtering apparatus of other teleostean fishes. The silver carp filtering apparatus is composed of biserial, fused filtering plates used to capture particles ranging in size from 4 to 80 μm. Early in ontogeny, at 15-25 mm standard length (SL), silver carp gill rakers are reminiscent of other more stereotypical teleostean rakers, characterized by individual lanceolate rakers that are tightly packed along the entirety of the branchial arches. At 30 mm SL, secondary epithelial projections and concomitant dermal ossification begin to stitch together individual gill rakers. During later juvenile stages, dermal bone further modifies the individual gill rakers and creates a bony scaffold that supports the now fully fused and porous epithelium. By adulthood, the stitching of bone and complete fusion of the overlying epithelium creates rigid filtering plates with morphologically distinct faces. The inner face of the plates is organized into a net-like matrix while the outer face has a sponge-like appearance comprised of differently sized pores. Here, we present morphological data from an ontogenetic series of the filtering apparatus within silver carp. These data inform hypotheses regarding both how these gill raker plates may have evolved from a more basal condition, as well as how this novel architecture allows this species to feed on exceedingly small phytoplankton, particles that represent a greater filtering challenge to the typical anatomy of the gill rakers of fishes.
SUMMARY A protrusible upper jaw has independently evolved multiple times within teleosts and has been implicated in the success of two groups in particular: Acanthomorpha and Cypriniformes. We use digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) to compare suction feeding flow dynamics in a representative of each of these clades: goldfish and bluegill. Using DPIV, we contrast the spatial pattern of flow, the temporal relationship between flow and head kinematics, and the contribution of jaw protrusion to the forces exerted on prey. As expected, the spatial patterns of flow were similar in the two species. However, goldfish were slower to reach maximal kinematic excursions, and were more flexible in the relative timing of jaw protrusion, other jaw movements and suction flows. Goldfish were also able to sustain flow speeds for a prolonged period of time as compared with bluegill, in part because goldfish generate lower peak flow speeds. In both species, jaw protrusion increased the force exerted on the prey. However, slower jaw protrusion in goldfish resulted in less augmentation of suction forces. This difference in force exerted on prey corresponds with differences in trophic niches and feeding behavior of the two species. The bluegill uses powerful suction to capture insect larvae whereas the goldfish uses winnowing to sort through detritus and sediment. The kinethmoid of goldfish may permit jaw protrusion that is independent of lower jaw movement, which could explain the ability of goldfish to decouple suction flows (due to buccal expansion) from upper jaw protrusion. Nevertheless, our results show that jaw protrusion allows both species to augment the force exerted on prey, suggesting that this is a fundamental benefit of jaw protrusion to suction feeders.
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