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Ontogenetic Development of the Digestive System in Agastric Chinese Sucker, Myxocyprinus asiaticus, Larvae


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This study was conducted to determine the ontogenetic development of the digestive tract and its accessory structures (liver, pancreas, and gall bladder) in agastric larval Chinese sucker Myxocyprinus asiaticus with the histological and ultrastructural approaches from hatching to 56 days after hatching (DAH). On the basis of its feeding mode, and analyzing the main histological features of the digestive system, larval development in Chinese sucker was divided into three stages from hatching: stage 1 (endotrophic period): 1–6 DAH; stage 2 (endoexotrophic period): 7–14 DAH; stage 3 (exclusively exotrophic period): from 15 DAH onward. At hatching, the digestive tract of the larvae consisted of an undifferentiated straight tube. At 4 DAH, the mouth opened, and the digestive tract was differentiated into buccopharyngeal cavity, esophagus and intestine. At 7 DAH, fish started to feed exogenously. Yolk sac was completely exhausted at 15 DAH. Until 56 DAH, the digestive tract of the larvae displayed regularly arranged microvilli, abundant vacuoles, and protein inclusion bodies. The pancreas, liver, and gall bladder were functional from 6 DAH, which enabled larvae to ingest, digest, and assimilate the first exogenous food. In comparison with teleosts that have a stomach, the development of the digestive tract of the agastric Chinese sucker seemed relatively slow.