Homology of lungs and gas bladders: Insights from arterial vasculature



Gas bladders of ray-finned fishes serve a variety of vital functions and are thus an important novelty of most living vertebrates. The gas bladder has long been regarded as an evolutionary modification of lungs. Critical evidence for this hypothesized homology is whether pulmonary arteries supply the gas bladder as well as the lungs. Pulmonary arteries, paired branches of the fourth efferent branchial arteries, deliver blood to the lungs in osteichthyans with functional lungs (lungfishes, tetrapods, and the ray-finned polypterid fishes). The fact that pulmonary arteries also supply the respiratory gas bladder of Amia calva (bowfin) has been used to support the homology of lungs and gas bladders, collectively termed air-filled organs (AO). However, the homology of pulmonary arteries in bowfin and lunged osteichthyans has been uncertain, given the apparent lack of pulmonary arteries in critical taxa. To re-evaluate the homology of pulmonary arteries in bowfin and lunged osteichthyans, we studied, using micro-CT technology, the arterial vasculature of Protopterus, Polypterus, Acipenser, Polyodon, Amia, and Lepisosteus, and analyzed these data using a phylogenetic approach. Our data reveal that Acipenser and Polyodon have paired posterior branches of the fourth efferent branchial arteries, which are thus similar in origin to pulmonary arteries. We hypothesize that these arteries are vestigial pulmonary arteries that have been coopted for new functions due to the dorsal shift of the AO and/or the loss of respiration in these taxa. Ancestral state reconstructions support pulmonary arteries as a synapomorphy of the Osteichthyes, provide the first concrete evidence for the retention of pulmonary arteries in Amia, and support thehomology of lungs and gas bladders due to a shared vascular supply. Finally, we use ancestral state reconstructions to show that arterial AO supplies from the celiacomesenteric artery or dorsal aorta appear to be convergent between teleosts and nonteleost actinopterygians. J. Morphol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.