Segmental arrangement of reticulospinal neurons in the goldfish hindbrain. Academic Article uri icon


  • The hindbrain is evolutionarily conserved among diverse vertebrate phyla. In vertebrate embryos, the hindbrain is segmentally organized as a series of overt swellings known as rhombomeres. In the larval zebrafish Brachydanio rerio, conspicuous and identifiable reticulospinal neurons are positioned in the center of rhombomeres. Segmentally homologous reticulospinal neurons that share a range of morphological, developmental, and biochemical features occupy adjacent rhombomeres. We have recently shown that reticulospinal neurons of the zebrafish survive ontogeny without considerable morphological modification and we suggested that homologous neurons may share similar functions at different stages of development (Lee and Eaton: Journal of Comparative Neurology 304:34-52, 1991). The goldfish Carassius auratus, a related cyprinid, is especially suited for neurophysiological and behavioral studies. However, it is not yet known if the various reticulospinal neurons of zebrafish are generalizable to other species such as the goldfish. Therefore, we sought to examine the extent to which reticulospinal neurons of the zebrafish are also present in the adult goldfish. Analysis of 45 brains retrogradely labeled with horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from the spinal cord showed that reticulospinal neurons are arranged as a series of seven segments within the hindbrain; a regular interval of approximately 200 microns separates adjacent segments. Although the goldfish reticulospinal system has more neurons than the zebrafish, many reticulospinal neuron types continue to be identifiable. Moreover, comparisons of dendritic arborizations and axon paths between the two species showed that the morphology between various neuron types is virtually identical. The cross-taxonomic similarities between the reticulospinal systems of these related cyprinids make it possible to pursue functional considerations of segmentally homologous neurons in the goldfish hindbrain.

publication date

  • March 22, 1993