Establishing the mangrove killifish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, as a model species for developmental biology
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
The mangrove killifish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, has the potential of becoming a strong model organism for a range of biological disciplines thanks to its ability to self-fertilise, a process only known to occur in invertebrate animals until its discovery. Selfing, a natural occurrence in this species, has lead to the formation of clonal lineages composed of highly homozygous individuals. The aim of this thesis was to further establish K. marmoratus in the field of developmental biology by providing an information infrastructure to help advance research on this peculiar animal and further promote its place in the pantheon of model organisms. To do so, I first set out to standardise K. marmoratus embryology by providing defined developmental stages with clear visual representations of key embryonic structures. This staging series is an essential tool that will ensure repeatability and consistency within and across different laboratories. Secondly, I examined several techniques for embryonic manipulation and for imaging that can be used in an array of experimental designs. Using these techniques I demonstrated microinjection of embryos by monitoring the yolk syncytial layer and its nuclei, and time-lapse analyses of the yolk surface during embryonic development. Finally, I applied the knowledge gained from my first two studies and examined Bmp signalling in K. marmoratus embryos and its influence on body patterning. By inhibiting this pathway, I found a new phenotype characterised by an extremely short and split body axis. These data highlighted the importance of studying known signalling pathways in unknown organisms as species-specific differences may improve our understanding of fundamental developmental processes. This thesis demonstrates that with its easily obtainable and manipulated embryos, K. marmoratus can be used for embryological research in the same light as other model organisms such as zebrafish or medaka. The rising amount of information on mangrove killifish will help further take advantage of this unique and intriguing species, and supports the use of this hermaphroditic vertebrate as a strong comparative model in developmental biology.
Natural Environment Research Council
PhD in Biological Sciences