Tiny, spiked structures on the pectoral fins of male zebrafish help them have sex. However, the structures seem to hinder the fish’s ability to regenerate their fins.
The structures, called tubercles, help males grasp females when mating, and they make a protein that prevents fin regeneration, scientists report October 14 in Developmental Cell.
The authors argue that males with more sexual ornaments, and consequently better chances of successful breeding but not fin regeneration, contribute to the gene pool more often and may be driving future generations to trade the old trait of regeneration for new tools that improve sexual success.
Finding the protein and pathway that block tissue regeneration in male zebrafish may also help scientists understand what prevents other animals, including humans, from regrowing body their own parts, the authors suggest.