Vertebral bodies are composed of two types of metameric elements, centra and arches, each of which is considered as a developmental module. Most parts of the teleost vertebral column have a one-to-one relationship between centra and arches, although, in all teleosts, this one-to-one relationship is lost in the caudal fin endoskeleton. Deviation from the one-to-one relationship occurs in most vertebrates, related to changes in the number of vertebral centra or to a change in the number of arches. In zebrafish, deviations also occur predominantly in the caudal region of the vertebral column. In-depth phenotypic analysis of wild-type zebrafish was performed using whole-mount stained samples, histological analyses and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy 3D reconstructions. Three deviant centra phenotypes were observed: (i) fusion of two vertebral centra, (ii) wedge-shaped hemivertebrae and (iii) centra with reduced length. Neural and haemal arches and their spines displayed bilateral and unilateral variations that resemble vertebral column phenotypes of stem-ward actinopterygians or other gnathostomes as well as pathological conditions in extant species. Whether it is possible to distinguish variations from pathological alterations and whether alterations resemble ancestral conditions is discussed in the context of centra and arch variations in other vertebrate groups and basal actinopterygian species.

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Journal of Anatomy
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Martini, Arianna, Sahd, Lauren, Rücklin, M., Huysseune, Ann, Hall, Brian K., Boglione, Clara, & Witten, P. Eckhard. (2023). Deformity or variation? Phenotypic diversity in the zebrafish vertebral column. Journal of Anatomy, 243(6), 960–981. doi:10.1111/joa.13926