This study provides a comprehensive description of the main morphological and histological events that take place during larval and post-larval development of Senegal sole Solea senegalensis in order to establish a reference for its normal developmental organogenesis. Five stages have been described. Before gill development at the onset of metamorphosis (eye migration process, stage 4c), the skin was the main site of gas and ion exchange, whereas during stages 3 and 4, the skin begins differentiating into the definitive juvenile structure. The timing of development of the endocrine system depends on each organ, the endocrine pancreas and thyroid gland being the first to differentiate (stages 2 and 3, respectively), followed by the interrenal tissue and stannius corpuscles that develop at metamorphosis (stages 4 and 4c, respectively). The differentiation and maturation of the lymphohaematopoietic organs was coupled with the increase in complexity of the cardiovascular system and the presence of mature erythrocytes (stage 4b), which might be attributed to the change in respiration and the development of fully functional gills. In the differentiation of sensory structures, the development of eyes, inner ear, neuromasts and olfactory organs was rapid, with most of these organs becoming fully developed soon after hatching (stage 1). Vision, chemo- and mechano-reception developed very early in ontogeny, in parallel with the development of the central nervous system and changes in feeding habits. Although the general pattern of development in S. senegalensis appeared similar to most marine fish larvae already described, there were species-specific ontogenetic characteristics probably derived from the species' particular environment (subtropical waters) and behaviour (nocturnal, benthic, omnivorous feeding habits). These results on the organogenesis of larvae are a useful tool for establishing the functional systemic capabilities and physiological requirements of larvae to ensure optimal welfare and growth under aquaculture conditions. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Fish Biology © 2011 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.
- Flatfish larvae