The unique eyes of the four-eyed fish Anableps anableps have long intrigued biologists. Key features associated with the bulging eye of Anableps include the expanded frontal bone and the duplicated pupils and cornea. Furthermore, the Anableps retina expresses different photoreceptor genes in dorsal and ventral regions, potentially associated with distinct aerial and aquatic stimuli. To gain insight into the developmental basis of the Anableps unique eye, we examined neurocranium and eye ontogeny, as well as photoreceptor gene expression during larval stages. First, we described six larval stages during which duplication of eye structures occurs. Our osteological analysis of neurocranium ontogeny revealed another distinctive Anablepid feature: an ossified interorbital septum partially separating the orbital cavities. Furthermore, we identified the onset of differences in cell proliferation and cell layer density between dorsal and ventral regions of the retina. Finally, we show that differential photoreceptor gene expression in the retina initiates during development, suggesting that it is inherited and not environmentally determined. In sum, our results shed light on the ontogenetic steps leading to the highly derived Anableps eye.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3718627.
- Received January 24, 2017.
- Accepted March 6, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.