Optomotor behaviour in Xenopus laevis tadpoles as a measure of the effect of gravity on visual and vestibular neural integration

S P Pronych, K A Souza, A W Neff, R J Wassersug
1996 Journal of Experimental Biology  
The ability of aquatic vertebrates to maintain their position requires integration of visual and vestibular sensory information. To understand better how aquatic animals integrate such information, we measured the optomotor behaviour of Xenopus laevis tadpoles raised in growth chambers in microgravity (< 10(-3)g), normal gravity (1 g), hypergravity (3 g) and on a slowly rotating clinostat (simulated microgravity). The goal of this research was to determine how development in an altered
more » ... onal force field affects the visual- and vestibular-dependent behaviour of tadpoles. This research represents the first time that the optomotor behaviour of an organism raised from fertilization in microgravity has been tested. Significant differences were observed in the optomotor behaviour among the four gravity treatments. When first exposed to normal gravity, the microgravity-raised tadpoles exhibited the strongest (or most positive) optomotor behaviour, while the 3 g centrifuge tadpoles showed no optomotor response. Some abnormal behaviours (such as erratic swimming, lying motionless and abnormal swimming posture) were observed in the tadpoles raised in altered gravity on the initial day of testing. One day later, the tadpoles raised in hypergravity did not differ significantly in their optomotor behaviour from control tadpoles raised in normal gravity. However, tadpoles raised in microgravity still displayed an exaggerated optomotor response. One week after the tadpoles had been introduced to normal gravity, there was no longer a significant difference in optomotor behaviour among the different gravity treatments. This convergence of optomotor behaviour by tadpoles from the different treatment reflects the acclimation of their vestibular systems to normal gravity.
pmid:9110955 fatcat:wegdodbf35cnzj6ykj6l32ftg4