Hypergravity susceptibility of ventral root activity during fictive swimming in tadpoles (Xenopus laevis).

S. Boser, E. R. Horn


1. Fictive swimming is an experimental model to study early motor development. As vestibular activity also affects the development of spinal motor projections, the present study focused on the question whether in Xenopus laevis tadpoles, the rhythmic activity of spinal ventral roots (VR) during fictive swimming revealed age-dependent modifications after hypergravity exposure. In addition, developmental characteristics for various features of fictive swimming between stages 37-38 and 47 were determined. Parameters of interest were duration of fictive swimming episodes, burst duration, burst frequency (i.e., cycle length), and rostrocaudal delay. 2. Ventral root recordings were performed between developmental stage 37-38, which is directly after hatching and stage 47 when the hind limb buds appear. The location of recording electrodes extended from myotome 4 to 17. 3. Hypergravity exposure by 3 g-centrifugation lasted 9 to 11 days. It started when embryos had just terminated gastrulation (stage 11-19-group), when first rhythmical activity in the ventral roots appeared (stage 24-27-group), and immediately after hatching (stage 37-41-group). Ventral root recordings were taken for 8 days after termination of 3 g-exposure. 4. Between stage 37-38 (hatching) and stage 47 (hind limb bud stage) burst duration, cycle length and rostrocaudal delay recorded between the 10th and 14th postotic myotome increased while episode duration decreased significantly. In tadpoles between stage 37 and 43, the rostrocaudal delay in the proximal tail part was as long as in older tadpoles while in caudal tail parts, it was shorter. During this period of development, there was also an age-dependent progression of burst extension in the proximal tail area that could not be observed between the 10th and 14th myotome. 6. After termination of the 3 g-exposure, the mean burst duration of VR activity increased significantly (p less than 0.01) when 3 g-exposure started shortly after gastrulation but not when it started thereafter. Other parameters for VR activity such as cycle length, rostrocaudal delay and episode duration were not affected by this level of hypergravity. 7. It is postulated that (i) functional separation of subunits responsible for intersegmental motor coordination starts shortly after hatching of young tadpoles; and that (ii) gravity exerts a trophic influence on the development of the vestibulospinal system during different periods of embryonic development leading to the formation of more rigid neuronal networks earlier in the spinal than in the ocular projections.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.4449/aib.v144i2.885


  • There are currently no refbacks.