Ontogenetic development of the auditory sensory organ in zebrafish (Danio rerio): changes in hearing sensitivity and related morphology

Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 3;5:15943. doi: 10.1038/srep15943.


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is an important model organism in hearing research. However, data on the hearing sensitivity of zebrafish vary across different reports. In the present study, the hearing sensitivity of zebrafish was examined by analysing the auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) over a range of total lengths (TLs) from 12 to 46 mm. Morphological changes in the hair cells (HCs) of the saccule (the main auditory end organ) and their synapses with primary auditory neurons were investigated. The AEPs were detected up to a much higher frequency limit (12 kHz) than previously reported. No significant difference in the frequency response range was observed across the TL range examined. However, the AEP thresholds demonstrated both developmental improvement and age-related loss of hearing sensitivity. The changes in hearing sensitivity were roughly consistent with the morphological changes in the saccule including (1) the number and density of HCs, (2) the organization of stereocilia, and (3) the quantity of a main ribbon protein, Ribeye b. The results of this study established a clear baseline for the hearing ability of zebrafish and revealed that the changes in the saccule contribute to the observed changes in TL (age)-related hearing sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Cell Count
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Saccule and Utricle / cytology
  • Saccule and Utricle / growth & development
  • Saccule and Utricle / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish / growth & development
  • Zebrafish / physiology*