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Wullimann, Mario F.; Meyer, Dietrich L.; Northcutt, R. G. (1991): The Visually Related Posterior Pretectal Nucleus in the Non-Percomorph Teleost Osteoglossum bicirrhosum Projects to the Hypothalamus. A DiI Study. In: Journal of Comparative Neurology, Vol. 312, No. 3: pp. 415-435


This study was done to elucidate the ancestral (plesiomorphic) condition for visual pathways to the hypothalamus in teleost fishes. Three patterns of pretectal organization can be discerned morphologically and histochemically in teleosts. Their taxonomic distribution suggests that the intermediately complex pattern (seen in most teleost groups) is ancestral to both the elaborate pattern (seen in percomorphs) and the simple pattern (seen in cyprinids). The pretectal nuclei involved can be demonstrated with acetylcholinesterase histochemistry selectively and reliably in different species of teleosts, suggesting that the same-named nuclei are homologous in representatives of the three different patterns. Whereas there are visual pathways to the hypothalamus in both the elaborate (percomorph) and the simple (cyprinid) patterns, different pretectal and hypothalamic nuclei are involved. Thus visual hypothalamic pathways in these two patterns would not appear to be homologous. In this study, circuitry within the third, i.e., the intermediately complex, pattern is investigated. It is demonstrated that visual pathways project via the pretectum to the hypothalamus in Osteoglossum bicirrhosum and that they are very similar to the visual pathways in the elaborate pattern. This suggests that the circuitry in the intermediately complex pattern, as represented by Osteoglossum, is plesiomorphic (evolutionarily primitive) and the circuitry in both the simple pattern (seen in cyprinids) and the elaborate pattern (seen in percomorphs) is apomorphic (evolutionarily derived) for teleosts.