Conserved germ plasm characteristics across the Danio and Devario lineages

Genesis. 2021 Oct;59(10):e23452. doi: 10.1002/dvg.23452. Epub 2021 Oct 7.


In many animal species, germ cell specification requires the inheritance of germ plasm, a biomolecular condensate containing maternally derived RNAs and proteins. Most studies of germ plasm composition and function have been performed in widely evolutionarily divergent model organisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, Xenopus laevis, and Danio rerio (zebrafish). In zebrafish, 12 RNAs localize to germ plasm at the furrows of the early embryo. Here, we tested for the presence of these RNAs in three additional species within the Danionin clade: Danio kyathit, Danio albolineatus, and Devario aequipinnatus. By visualizing nanos RNA, we find that germ plasm segregation patterns during early embryogenesis are conserved across these species. Ten additional germ plasm RNAs exhibit localization at the furrows of early embryos in all three non-zebrafish Danionin species, consistent with germ plasm localization. One component of zebrafish germ plasm, ca15b, lacked specific localization in embryos of the more distantly related D. aequipinnatus. Our findings show that within a subset of closely related Danionin species, the vast majority of germ plasm RNA components are conserved. At the same time, the lack of ca15b localization in D. aequipinnatus germ plasm highlights the potential for the divergence of germ plasm composition across a restricted phylogenetic space.

Keywords: Danionin; embryonic development; evolution; germline; primordial germ cells; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Development / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Germ Cells / growth & development
  • Germ Cells / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • Xenopus laevis / genetics
  • Zebrafish / genetics*


  • RNA