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Incremental Temperature Changes for Maximal Breeding and Spawning in Astyanax mexicanus

Li Ma1, Ruby Dessiatoun1, Janet Shi1, William R. Jeffery1


The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, is an emerging model system for studies in development and evolution. The existence of eyed surface (surface fish) and blind cave (cave fish) morphs in this species presents an opportunity to interrogate the mechanisms underlying morphological and behavioral evolution. Cave fish have evolved novel constructive and regressive traits. The constructive changes include increases in taste buds and jaws, lateral line sensory organs, and body fat. The regressive changes include loss or reduction of eyes. melanin pigmentation, schooling behavior, aggression, and sleep. To experimentally interrogate these changes, it is crucial to obtain large numbers of spawned embryos. Since the original A. mexicanus surface fish and cave fish were collected in Texas and Mexico in the 1990s, their descendants have been routinely stimulated to breed and spawn large numbers of embryos bimonthly in the Jeffery laboratory. Although breeding is controlled by food abundance and quality, light-dark cycles, and temperature, we have found that incremental temperature changes play a key role in stimulating maximal spawning. The gradual increase of temperature from 72 °F to 78 °F in the first three days of a breeding week provides two-three consecutive spawning days with maximal numbers of high-quality embryos, which is then followed by a gradual decrease of temperature from 78 °F to 72 °F during the last three days of the spawning week. The procedures shown in this video outline the workflow before and during a laboratory breeding week for incremental temperature stimulated spawning.

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