Does the bowfin gas bladder represent an intermediate stage during the lung-to-gas bladder evolutionary transition?

Journal of Morphology
Emily C FunkAmy McCune


Whether phenotypic evolution occurs gradually through time has prompted the search for intermediate forms between the ancestral and derived states of morphological features, especially when there appears to be a discontinuous origin. The gas bladder, a derived character of the Actinopteri, is a modification of lungs, which characterize the common ancestor of bony vertebrates. While gas bladders and lungs are similar in many ways, the key morphological difference between these organs is the direction of budding from the foregut during development; essentially, the gas bladder buds dorsally and the lungs bud ventrally from the foregut. Did the shift from ventral lungs to dorsal gas bladder transition through a lateral-budding stage? To answer this question, the precise location of budding during gas bladder development in bowfin, representing the sister lineage to teleosts, has been debated. In the early 20th-century, it was suggested that the bowfin gas bladder buds laterally from the right wall of the foregut. We used nano-CT scanning to visualize the early development of the bowfin gas bladder to verify the historical studies of gas bladder developmental morphology and determine whether the direction of gas bladder budding in ...Continue Reading


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