Fisheries Science

, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 243–250 | Cite as

Dual appearance of xanthophores, and ontogenetic changes in other pigment cells during early development of Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus

  • Mitsuo Nakamura
  • Tadahisa Seikai
  • Masato Aritaki
  • Reiji Masuda
  • Masaru Tanaka
  • Masatomo TagawaEmail author
Original Article Biology


Flatfishes display a left–right asymmetry that is unique in the animal kingdom. In order to clarify the mechanisms of the asymmetrical development of pigment cells, changes in pigment cell densities were examined in Japanese flounder Paralichthys olivaceus. During development from symmetrical larvae to asymmetrical juveniles, pigment cell densities were monitored on the skin on both the left side (ocular side in juvenile; eventually has two eyes) and the right side (blind side in juvenile; eventually has no eyes). A symmetrical and constant decrease was observed in leucophores and larval type melanophores. A mostly symmetrical (slightly delayed on the blind side) and constant increase in iridophores from metamorphosis was observed. Adult-type melanophores appeared and then increased only after metamorphosis on the ocular side. However, the pattern of xanthophores was complicated: they first existed symmetrically and decreased symmetrically until metamorphosis, and they later increased only on the ocular side. The dual appearance of the xanthophores, as well as the differences between their depths and sizes on the ocular and blind sides, may suggest the presence of two types of xanthophores—just as melanophores are well known to exhibit two types. The ontogenetic study of pigment cells described here is likely to help to elucidate the process of abnormal pigmentation in flatfishes.


Japanese flounder Pigment cell Metamorphosis Asymmetrical development Xanthophore Larval and adult type Ontogeny Flatfish 



We are grateful to the staff at Miyazu Station, National Center for Stock Enhancement, Fisheries Research Agency, and those at the Niigata Prefectural Fisheries and Marine Research Institute, for kindly supplying the Japanese flounder eggs. We are also grateful to the staff and the students at the Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University, for their assistance in rearing the fish and conducting experiments. This study was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan to M. T.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitsuo Nakamura
    • 1
  • Tadahisa Seikai
    • 2
  • Masato Aritaki
    • 3
    • 4
  • Reiji Masuda
    • 5
  • Masaru Tanaka
    • 1
    • 6
    • 7
  • Masatomo Tagawa
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Applied BioSciences, Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Marine BiosciencesFukui Prefectural UniversityObamaJapan
  3. 3.Miyako Station, National Center for Stock EnhancementFisheries Research AgencyMiyakoJapan
  4. 4.Coastal Fisheries and Aquaculture Division, Seikai National Fisheries Research InstituteFisheries Research AgencyNagasakiJapan
  5. 5.Maizuru Fisheries Research Station, Field Science Education and Research CenterKyoto UniversityMaizuruJapan
  6. 6.Field Science Education and Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  7. 7.Borneo Marine Research InstituteUniversiti Malaysia SabahKota KinabaluSabahMalaysia

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