Virtually all fishes rely on flows of water to transport food to the back of their pharynx. While external flows that draw food into the mouth are well described, how intra-oral water flows manage to deposit food at the esophagus entrance remains unknown. In theory, the posteriorly moving water must, at some point, curve laterally and/or ventrally to exit through the gill slits. Such flows would eventually carry food away from the esophagus instead of toward it. This apparent paradox calls for a filtration mechanism to deviate food from the suction-feeding streamlines. To study this gap in our fundamental understanding of how fishes feed, we developed and applied a new technique to quantify three-dimensional patterns of intra-oral water flows in vivo. We combined stereoscopic high-speed x-ray videos to quantify skeletal motion (XROMM) with 3D x-ray particle tracking (XPT) of neutrally buoyant spheres of 1.4 mm in diameter. We show, for carp (Cyprinus carpio) and tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), that water tracers displayed higher curvatures than food tracers, indicating an inertia-driven filtration. In addition, tilapia also exhibited a 'central jet' flow pattern, which aids in quickly carrying food to the pharyngeal jaw region. When the food was trapped at the branchial basket, it was resuspended and carried more centrally by periodical bidirectional waterflows, synchronized with head-bone motions. By providing a complete picture of the suction-feeding process and revealing fundamental differences in food transport mechanisms among species, this novel technique opens a new area of investigation to fully understand how most aquatic vertebrates feed.
All data analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file; Source Data files have been provided for all figures in Data file S1.
- Sam Van Wassenbergh
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the European recommendations of animal experimentation. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and were ethically approved by the University of Antwerp (ECD-2017-22). All surgery was performed under Ethyl 3-aminobenzoate methanesulfonate anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.
- David Lentink, University of Groningen, Netherlands
© 2022, Provini et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Ciliates are microbial eukaryotes that undergo extensive programmed genome rearrangement, a natural genome editing process that converts long germline chromosomes into smaller gene-rich somatic chromosomes. Three well-studied ciliates include Oxytricha trifallax, Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia, but only the Oxytricha lineage has a massively scrambled genome, whose assembly during development requires hundreds of thousands of precise programmed DNA joining events, representing the most complex genome dynamics of any known organism. Here we study the emergence of such complex genomes by examining the origin and evolution of discontinuous and scrambled genes in the Oxytricha lineage. This study compares six genomes from three species, the germline and somatic genomes for Euplotes woodruffi, Tetmemena sp., and the model ciliate Oxytricha trifallax. To complement existing data, we sequenced, assembled and annotated the germline and somatic genomes of Euplotes woodruffi, which provides an outgroup, and the germline genome of Tetmemena sp.. We find that the germline genome of Tetmemena is as massively scrambled and interrupted as Oxytricha's : 13.6% of its gene loci require programmed translocations and/or inversions, with some genes requiring hundreds of precise gene editing events during development. This study revealed that the earlier-diverged spirotrich, E. woodruffi, also has a scrambled genome, but only roughly half as many loci (7.3%) are scrambled. Furthermore, its scrambled genes are less complex, together supporting the position of Euplotes as a possible evolutionary intermediate in this lineage, in the process of accumulating complex evolutionary genome rearrangements, all of which require extensive repair to assemble functional coding regions. Comparative analysis also reveals that scrambled loci are often associated with local duplications, supporting a gradual model for the origin of complex, scrambled genomes via many small events of DNA duplication and decay.
A morbidostat is a bioreactor that uses antibiotics to control the growth of bacteria, making it well-suited for studying the evolution of antibiotic resistance. However, morbidostats are often too expensive to be used in educational settings. Here we present a low-cost morbidostat called the EVolutionary biorEactor (EVE) that can be built by students with minimal engineering and programming experience. We describe how we validated EVE in a real classroom setting by evolving replicate Escherichia coli populations under chloramphenicol challenge, thereby enabling students to learn about bacterial growth and antibiotic resistance.