Comparative morphological examination of vertebral bodies of teleost fish using high-resolution micro-CT scans

J Morphol. 2019 Jun;280(6):778-795. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20983. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Vertebral bodies of teleost fish are formed by the sclerotomal bone covering the chordacentrum. The internal part of the sclerotomal bone is composed of an amphicoelous hourglass shaped autocentrum, which is common in most fish species. In contrast, the external shape of the sclerotomal bone varies extensively among species. There are multiple hypotheses regarding the composition and formation of the external structure. However, as they are based on studies of few extant or extinct species, their applicability to other species remains to be clarified. To understand the morphology, formation, and composition of vertebral bodies in teleosts, we performed a comparative analysis using micro-CT scans of 32 species from 10 orders of Teleostei and investigated the detailed morphology of the sclerotomal bone, especially its plate-like ridge and trabeculae. We discovered two structural characteristics that are shared among most of the examined species. One was the sheet-like trabeculae that extend radially from the center of the vertebral body with a constant thickness. The other was the presence of hollow spaces on the internal parts of the lateral ridge and trabeculae. The combination of different arrangements of sheet-like trabeculae and internal hollow spaces formed different shapes of the lateral structure of the vertebral body. The properties of these two characteristics suggest that the external part of the sclerotomal bone grows outward by deposition at the bone tip, and that, concurrently, bone absorption occurs in the internal part of the sclerotomal bone. The vertebral arches were also formed by the sheet-like trabeculae, indicating that both, the vertebral body and the arches, are formed by the same component. The micro-CT scanning data were uploaded to a public database so they can be used for future studies on fish vertebrae.

Keywords: arcocentrum; autocentrum; development; trabecula.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Fishes / growth & development
  • Spine / anatomy & histology*
  • Spine / growth & development
  • X-Ray Microtomography