Electrosensory ampullary organs are derived from lateral line placodes in bony fishes.


Electroreception is an ancient subdivision of the lateral line sensory system, found in all major vertebrate groups (though lost in frogs, amniotes and most ray-finned fishes). Electroreception is mediated by 'hair cells' in ampullary organs, distributed in fields flanking lines of mechanosensory hair cell-containing neuromasts that detect local water movement. Neuromasts, and afferent neurons for both neuromasts and ampullary organs, develop from lateral line placodes. Although ampullary organs in the axolotl (a representative of the lobe-finned clade of bony fishes) are lateral line placode-derived, non-placodal origins have been proposed for electroreceptors in other taxa. Here we show morphological and molecular data describing lateral line system development in the basal ray-finned fish Polyodon spathula, and present fate-mapping data that conclusively demonstrate a lateral line placode origin for ampullary organs and neuromasts. Together with the axolotl data, this confirms that ampullary organs are ancestrally lateral line placode-derived in bony fishes.