• gill arches;
  • gill slits;
  • histology;
  • Moronidae;
  • ontogeny

The European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax is a marine teleost important in Mediterranean aquaculture. The development of the entire digestive tract of D. labrax, including the pharynx, was investigated from early embryonic development to day 5 post hatching (dph), when the mouth opens. The digestive tract is initialized at stage 12 somites independently from two distinct infoldings of the endodermal sheet. In the pharyngeal region, the anterior infolding forms the pharynx and the first gill slits at stage 25 somites. The other three gill arches and slits are formed between 1 and 5 dph. Posteriorly, in the gut tube region, a posterior infolding forms the foregut, midgut and hindgut. The anus opens before hatching, at stage 28 somites. Associated organs (liver, pancreas and gall bladder) are all discernable from 3 dph. Some aspects of the development of the two independent initial infoldings seem original compared with data in the literature. These results are discussed and compared with embryonic and post-embryonic development patterns in other teleosts.