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Review Article

Anatomy and function of retinorecipient arborization fields in zebrafish


Baier,  Herwig
Department: Genes-Circuits-Behavior / Baier, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;


Wullimann,  Mario F.
Department: Genes-Circuits-Behavior / Baier, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;

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Baier, H., & Wullimann, M. F. (2021). Anatomy and function of retinorecipient arborization fields in zebrafish. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 529(15), 3454-3476.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-8747-F
In 1994, Burrill and Easter described the retinal projections in embryonic and larval zebrafish, introducing the term “arborization fields” (AFs) for the retinorecipient areas. AFs were numbered from 1 to 10 according to their positions along the optic tract. With the exception of AF10 (neuropil of the optic tectum), annotations of AFs remained tentative. Here we offer an update on the likely identities and functions of zebrafish AFs after successfully matching classical neuroanatomy to the digital Max Planck Zebrafish Brain Atlas. In our system, individual AFs are neuropil areas associated with the following nuclei: AF1 with the suprachiasmatic nucleus; AF2 with the posterior parvocellular preoptic nucleus; AF3 and AF4 with the ventrolateral thalamic nucleus; AF4 with the anterior and intermediate thalamic nuclei; AF5 with the dorsal accessory optic nucleus; AF7 with the parvocellular superficial pretectal nucleus; AF8 with the central pretectal nucleus; and AF9d and AF9v with the dorsal and ventral periventricular pretectal nuclei. AF6 is probably part of the accessory optic system. Imaging, ablation, and activation experiments showed contributions of AF5 and potentially AF6 to optokinetic and optomotor reflexes, AF4 to phototaxis, and AF7 to prey detection. AF6, AF8 and AF9v respond to dimming, and AF4 and AF9d to brightening. While few annotations remain tentative, it is apparent that the larval zebrafish visual system is anatomically and functionally continuous with its adult successor and fits the general cyprinid pattern. This study illustrates the synergy created by merging classical neuroanatomy with a cellular-resolution digital brain atlas resource and functional imaging in larval zebrafish.