The evolution and development of vertebrate lateral line electroreceptors.


Electroreception is an ancient vertebrate sense with a fascinating evolutionary history involving multiple losses as well as independent evolution at least twice within teleosts. We review the phylogenetic distribution of electroreception and the morphology and innervation of electroreceptors in different vertebrate groups. We summarise recent work from our laboratory that has confirmed the homology of ampullary electroreceptors in non-teleost jawed vertebrates by showing, in conjunction with previously published work, that these are derived embryonically from lateral line placodes. Finally, we review hypotheses to explain the distribution of electroreception within teleosts, including the hypothesis that teleost ampullary and tuberous electroreceptors evolved via the modification of mechanosensory hair cells in lateral line neuromasts. We conclude that further experimental work on teleost electroreceptor development is needed to test such hypotheses.