Scientists discover how the spine on the body of puffers develops

The best-known feature of the pufferfish is its round shape which gave it the name, among other things. Among the other undoubtedly interesting features that this animal boasts there are the teeth similar to a beak and an extremely reduced skeleton.

However, this fish also has another very interesting feature: its skin has several pointed structures similar to real spines. The formation of the latter has always been a mystery but now new research, which appeared on iScience, clarifies this aspect.

These spines only form in certain areas of the body instead of scales, as stated by Gareth Fraser, a researcher at the University of Florida and the author of the study. Following the development of these spines already from the embryos, Fraser and colleagues discovered that these spines can be considered as unique and not a mere evolutionary deformation of the scales.

The genes that make these spines develop on the body of the fish can, in fact, be combined with genes that develop feathers and hair in other vertebrate animals. And this is a fact that has surprised Fraser himself: although there are enormous morphological differences, for example, between a puffer and a bird, in both species the development still uses the same gene networks to develop, in this case, of skin structures.

Researchers have also come to make the discovery using CRISPR: with this technique they have blocked those genes that make these skin appendages develop in fish. By blocking them, they realized that the number of spines on the body of the puffer decreased.

Roy Wilson

I was a former mathematics professor at Delaware Technical Community College before starting my own IT and computer repair business. As I have always loved to read about what's going on in the world of science, I started Capstory News in late-2018 with the aim of building up a great resource for people like me who just want to read about the latest research in clear and concise English, without all of the annoying ads and popups. Today, I spend a few hours per week on Capstory News and continue to bring on new contributors. In my spare time, outside of working on my business and this publication, I also enjoy jogging, bridge and hiking.

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Roy Wilson