Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The African fish that lives fast and dies young

Date:
September 4, 2013
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
African annual fish take the adage ‘live fast, die young’ to a whole new level with the discovery that their short lifespan is accompanied by the most rapid sexual maturation of any vertebrate species. Extreme environments can give rise to extreme adaptations. The tiny annual fish of Africa live in temporary puddles created by seasonal rainfall, and so must grow and reproduce quickly in order to lay their hardy eggs before the waters dry up. African annual fish can grow up to 23% of their body length in a day.

Male annual fish. The tiny annual fish of Africa live in temporary puddles created by seasonal rainfall, and so must grow and reproduce quickly in order to lay their hardy eggs before the waters dry up.
Credit: Image courtesy of BioMed Central Limited

African annual fish take the adage 'live fast, die young' to a whole new level with the discovery that their short lifespan is accompanied by the most rapid sexual maturation of any vertebrate species. The find, reported in the open access journal EvoDevo as part of a series on extreme environments, adds to our knowledge of extremophile lifestyles.

Related Articles


Extreme environments can give rise to extreme adaptations. The tiny annual fish of Africa live in temporary puddles created by seasonal rainfall, and so must grow and reproduce quickly in order to lay their hardy eggs before the waters dry up.

African annual fish can grow up to 23% of their body length in a day, report Martin Reichard and colleagues, who studied wild-caught fish in captivity. One species, Nothobranchius kadleci started reproducing at 17 days old, at a size of just 31 mm, with a related species, N. furzeri maturing only one day later. The fish then produced eggs that developed to the hatching stage in as few as 15 days, making the time from one generation to the next as little as month -- the most rapid sexual maturation time and minimum generation time of any known vertebrate species.

When the pools dry up, dormant embryos can survive in the dried mud for months, until the next rains come and the life cycle begins again. In the lab, half of embryos skipped dormancy when incubated on a peat substrate in a Petri dish. In the wild these individuals would populate secondary pools produced within a single rainy season after the primary pool desiccated. The findings suggest that rapid growth and maturation do not compromise subsequent fecundity.

Animals with a long life span can afford to take things slow. The tiny cave-dwelling salamander, olm (Proteus anguinus), which lives for over 100 years, takes 16 years to reach sexual maturity. But when the risk of mortality is high or lifespan shorter, animals reach sexual maturity earlier. The tiny goby, Schindleria, and females of house mouse lab strains (Mus musculus) become sexually mature at just 23 days old.

Earlier studies of a laboratory strain of an African annual fish suggested that it took the fish four weeks to mature, but this may have been an over-estimate. Previous reports of early maturation were based on anecdotal evidence, but this study is based on quantitative data and demonstrates that the rapid growth rate in the lab is still an underestimate compared to that in the wild.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Radim BlaΏek, MatΏj PolaΏik, Martin Reichard. Rapid growth, early maturation and short generation time in African annual fishes. EvoDevo, 2013; 4 (1): 24 DOI: 10.1186/2041-9139-4-24

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "The African fish that lives fast and dies young." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130904093846.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2013, September 4). The African fish that lives fast and dies young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130904093846.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "The African fish that lives fast and dies young." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130904093846.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

500 Snakes Surprise Construction Workers In Canada

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) — Hundreds of snakes, disturbed by a construction project, were relocated to a wildlife rescue association in Canada. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) — If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Zookeepers Copy Animal Poses In Hilarious Viral Photos

Buzz60 (Mar. 2, 2015) — Zookeepers at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh, Australia decided to take some of their favorite animal photos and recreate them by posing just like the animals. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

Heavy Toll as Australian Farmers Struggle Through Drought

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) — Mounting debts, despair and forced repossessions are taking a heavy toll on farmers in parts of Australia suffering from its worst drought in 100 years. Duration: 02:16 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins