Fish models for investigating nutritional regulation of embryonic development

Dev Biol. 2021 Aug:476:101-111. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2021.03.012. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


In recent decades, biologist have focused on the spatiotemporal regulation and function of genes to understand embryogenesis. It is clear that maternal diet impacts fetal development but how nutrients, like lipids and vitamins, modify developmental programs is not completely understood. Fish are useful research organisms for such investigations. Most species of fish produce eggs that develop outside the mother, dependent on a finite amount of yolk to form and grow. The developing embryo is a closed system that can be readily biochemically analyzed, easily visualized, and manipulated to understand the role of nutrients in tissue specification, organogenesis, and growth. Natural variation in yolk composition observed across fish species may be related to unique developmental strategies. In this review, we discuss the reasons that teleost fishes are powerful models to understand nutritional control of development and highlight three species that are particularly valuable for future investigations: the zebrafish, Danio rerio, the African Killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri, and the Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus. This review is a part of a special issue on nutritional, hormonal, and metabolic drivers of development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Characidae / genetics
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Fishes / embryology*
  • Fishes / genetics
  • Fundulidae / genetics
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Models, Animal
  • Nutritional Requirements / physiology*
  • Zebrafish / genetics