The outflow tract of the heart in fishes: Anatomy, genes and evolution

  • Grimes A
  • Kirby M
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A large number of congenital heart defects associated with mortality in humans are those that affect the cardiac outflow tract, and this provides a strong imperative to understand its development during embryogenesis. While there is wide phylogenetic variation in adult vertebrate heart morphology, recent work has demonstrated evolutionary conservation in the early processes of cardiogenesis, including that of the outflow tract. This, along with the utility and high reproductive potential of fish species such as Danio rerio, Oryzias latipes etc., suggests that fishes may provide ideal comparative biological models to facilitate a better understanding of this poorly understood region of the heart. In this review, the authors present the current understanding of both phylogeny and ontogeny of the cardiac outflow tract in fishes and examine how new molecular studies are informing the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary trajectories that have been proposed. The authors also attempt to address some of the issues of nomenclature that confuse this area of research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Arterial pole
  • Bulbus arteriosus
  • Cardiogenesis
  • Conus arteriosus
  • Evolution
  • Outflow tract

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  • A. C. Grimes

  • M. L. Kirby

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