Notochord segmentation may lay down the pathway for the development of the vertebral bodies in the Atlantic salmon

Anat Embryol (Berl). 2003 Dec;207(4-5):263-72. doi: 10.1007/s00429-003-0349-y. Epub 2003 Oct 22.


This study indicates that the development of the vertebrae in the Atlantic salmon requires the orchestration of two sources of metameric patterning, derived from the notochord and the somite rows, respectively. Before segmentation of the salmon notochord, chordoblasts exhibit a well-defined cell axis that is uniformly aligned with the cranio-caudal axis. The morphology of these cells is characterised by a foot-like basal projection that rests on the notochordal sheath. Notochordal segments are initially formed within the chordoblast layer by metameric change in the axial orientation of groups of chordoblasts. This process results in the formation of circular bands of chordoblasts, with feet perpendicular to the cranio-caudal axis, the original chordoblast orientation. Each vertebra is defined by two such chordoblast bands, at the cranial and caudal borders, respectively. Formation of the chordoblast segments closely precedes formation of the chordacentra, which form as calcified rings within the adjacent notochordal sheath. Sclerotomal osteoblasts then differentiate on the surface of the chordacentra, using them as foundations for further vertebral growth. Thus, the morphogenesis of the rudiments of the vertebral bodies is initiated by a generation of segments within the chordoblast layer. This dual segmentation model for salmon, in which the segmental patterns of the neural and haemal arches are somite-derived, while the vertebral segments seem to be notochord-derived, contrasts with current models for avians and mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • Notochord / embryology*
  • Organogenesis / physiology*
  • Salmo salar / embryology*
  • Salmo salar / growth & development
  • Spine / embryology*
  • Spine / growth & development