Induced hatching to avoid infectious egg disease in whitefish

Curr Biol. 2002 Jan 8;12(1):69-71. doi: 10.1016/s0960-9822(01)00627-3.


Reacting to a threat before physical contact, e.g., induced by air- or water-borne substances, appears to be an elegant way of defense. The reaction may be behavioral, developmental, morphological, or physiological, and it can involve a shift in niche or life history. Hatching from eggs is a shift in niche and in life history. From niche shift and life history models, one would predict that the timing of hatching is, to some degree, phenotypically plastic, i.e., early or delayed hatching is likely to be inducible. Temporary increased larval mortality (e.g., increased predation on larvae) would favor delayed hatching, while relatively high egg mortality would favor early hatching. Here, I show experimentally that eggs of the whitefish (Coregonus sp.) hatch earlier in the presence of a virulent egg parasite and that this early hatching is induced by water-borne cues emitted from infected eggs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / microbiology*
  • Embryonic Development
  • Fish Diseases / microbiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Pseudomonas Infections / veterinary*
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Salmonidae / embryology
  • Salmonidae / microbiology*
  • Survival Analysis