Pigment pattern morphospace of Danio fishes: Evolutionary diversification and mutational effects

Braedan M. McCluskey, Yipeng Liang, Victor M. Lewis, Larissa B. Patterson, David M. Parichy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying variation in adult form remain largely unknown. Adult pigment patterns of fishes in the genus Danio, which includes zebrafish, Danio rerio, consist of horizontal stripes, vertical bars, spots and uniform patterns, and provide an outstanding opportunity to identify causes of species level variation in a neural crest derived trait. Understanding pigment pattern variation requires quantitative approaches to assess phenotypes, yet such methods have been mostly lacking for pigment patterns. We introduce metrics derived from information theory that describe patterns and pattern variation in Danio fishes. We find that these metrics used singly and in multivariate combinations are suitable for distinguishing general pattern types, and can reveal even subtle phenotypic differences attributable to mutations. Our study provides new tools for analyzing pigment pattern in Danio and potentially other groups, and sets the stage for future analyses of pattern morphospace and its mechanistic underpinnings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number058814
JournalBiology Open
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd


  • Danio
  • Development and evolution
  • Iridophore
  • Melanophore
  • Morphospace
  • Pigment pattern
  • Xanthophore
  • Zebrafish


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