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Keywords:

  • calretinin;
  • facial nerve;
  • gustation;
  • teleost

Abstract

Taste bud formation in channel catfish is first seen to occur in stage 39 embryos, when taste bud primordia (stage 1), consisting of three to five cells, including a single calretinin-positive cell, can be recognized within the oropharyngeal cavity and maxillary barbels. Within a short time (stage 40), stage 2 taste bud primordia are apparent and include two or three calretinin-positive cells. The number of calretinin-positive cells continues to increase (stage 3), and the primordia begin to erupt as mature taste buds (stage 4) by embryonic stage 48. This same pattern of taste bud development characterizes other regions of the head, with calretinin-positive cells first detected around the mouth and on the other barbels by stage 41 and on the rest of the head by stage 48. The development of trunk taste buds lags far behind that of the head, with the first calretinin-positive cells occurring on the lobes of the caudal fin by stage 48 and on the remaining fins by stage 50. Taste bud primordia on the trunk proper do not begin to appear until stage 53, when the larvae begin to feed, and these receptors begin to erupt only in 1-week-old larvae. Fibers of the facial nerve, which innervate all external taste buds, ramify within the ectoderm prior to the first appearance of taste bud primordia or their precursors. J. Comp. Neurol. 482:1–16, 2005. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.