Unravelling the blood supply to the zebrafish pharyngeal jaws and teeth



Jeroen Crucke, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. E: jeroen.crucke@Ugent.be


We describe the vascular supply to the pharyngeal jaws and teeth in zebrafish, from larval stages to juveniles, using serial high quality semithin sections and 3D reconstructions. We have identified that the arterial blood supply to the last pair of branchial arches, which carries the teeth, issues from the hypobranchial artery. Surprisingly, the arteries supplying the pharyngeal jaws show an asymmetric branching pattern that is modified over ontogeny. Moreover, the blood vessel pattern that serves each jaw can best be described as a sinusoidal cavity encircling the bases of both the functional and replacement teeth. Capillaries branching from this sinusoidal cavity enter the pulp and constitute the intrinsic blood supply to the attached teeth. The role of these blood vessels during tooth development (whether instructive or nutritive) remains to be determined and requires further study. However, we have provided a firm morphological basis that will aid in the interpretation of experiments addressing this question.