An Association of Melanophores Appearing at Metamorphosis as Vehicles of Asymmetric Skin Color Formation With Pigment Anomalies Developed Under Hatchery Conditions in the Japanese Flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus


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The mechanisms for asymmetric skin color formation in the Japanese flounder are studied with particular concerns to causes for pigment disorder (hypomelanosis) occurring under hatchery conditions. For an analysis of normal pigmentation, fish were raised with wild zooplanktons in an indoor hatchery, whilst for hypomelanosis, they were raised with Brazilian Artemia nauplii, a diet used in the hatcheries. Morphological observations, counting of melanophores, histochemical assay of DOPA‐positive immature cells (melanoblasts), and radiometric estimation of tyrosinase activities in skins of developing larvae and juveniles indicate that 1) the structural plan for pigmentation in this species is bilaterally symmetric until metamorphosis, utilizing large‐sized melanophores (hence larval melanophores) as main vehicles, and 2) an asymmetric coloration characteristic to metamorphosed juveniles is formed by an intensive development of smaller‐sized melanophores (hence adult‐type melanophores) appearing selectively in the ocular side at the later stages of metamorphosis and by an absence of it in the blind. These findings apparently indicate that 1) two types of melanophores occur in this species which differ with respect to morphological properties and developmental fate, and 2) selective differentiation of adult type melanophores in the ocular side of the body at or after metamorphosis is primarily responsible for an asymmetric coloration of its adult form. The similar assays on the fish fed with Artemia nauplii indicate that defective development of adult‐type melanophores results in hypomelanosis in their ocular‐sided skins, yielding a pigmentary pattern seen in the blind side of the metamorphosed juveniles with normal pigmentation. Thus, it is likely that some nutritional factor(s) present or deficient in these Artemia nauplii interfere with the development of adult‐type melanophores, possibly through modified tissue environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalPigment Cell Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1987 Nov



  • Artemia‐feeding
  • Bilateralism
  • Hypomelanosis
  • Melanoblast
  • Tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science
  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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