In zebrafish the cartilages of the pharynx develop during late embryogenesis and grow extensively in the larva before eventually being replaced by bone. Here we examine chondrocyte arrangements, shapes, numbers, and divisions in the young hyoid cartilages. We observe two distinct developmental phases, morphogenesis and growth. The first phase generates stereotypically oriented chondrocyte stacks that might form by intercalations among cells within the precartilage condensations. In mutants that have deformed cartilages the orientation of the stacks is changed, and we propose that their correct formation underlies the correct initial shaping of the organ. The following period of rapid, nearly isometric cartilage growth occurs by divisions of chondrocytes that are largely located near the joints, and appears to be under quite separate regulation.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.