Development of body, head and brain features in the Australian fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata; Marsupialia: Dasyuridae); A postnatal model of forebrain formation

Suarez, Rodrigo and Paolino, Annalisa and Kozulin, Peter and Fenlon, Laura R. and Morcom, Laura R. and Englebright, Robert and O'Hara, Patricia J. and Murray, Peter J. ORCID: and Richards, Linda J. (2017) Development of body, head and brain features in the Australian fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata; Marsupialia: Dasyuridae); A postnatal model of forebrain formation. PLoS One, 12 (9):e0184450. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1932-6203

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Most of our understanding of forebrain development comes from research of eutherian mammals, such as rodents, primates, and carnivores. However, as the cerebral cortex forms largely prenatally, observation and manipulation of its development has required invasive and/or ex vivo procedures. Marsupials, on the other hand, are born at comparatively earlier stages of development and most events of forebrain formation occur once attached to the teat, thereby permitting continuous and non-invasive experimental access. Here, we take advantage of this aspect of marsupial biology to establish and characterise a resourceful laboratory model of forebrain development: the fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata), a mouse-sized carnivorous Australian marsupial. We present an anatomical description of the postnatal development of the body, head and brain in dunnarts, and provide a staging system compatible with human and mouse developmental stages. As compared to eutherians, the orofacial region develops earlier in dunnarts, while forebrain development is largely protracted, extending for more than 40 days versus ca. 15 days in mice. We discuss the benefits of fat-tailed dunnarts as laboratory animals in studies of developmental biology, with an emphasis on how their accessibility in the pouch can help address new experimental questions, especially regarding mechanisms of brain development and evolution.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 05:35
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2021 00:09
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wallaby macropus-eugenii; eutherian mammals; interhemispheric midline; anterior commissure; olfactory system; tammar wallaby; heterochrony; evolution; mouse; sequences
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0606 Physiology > 060699 Physiology not elsewhere classified
06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060807 Animal Structure and Function
06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060805 Animal Neurobiology
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310911 Animal structure and function
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310910 Animal physiology - systems
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1899 Other environmental management > 189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
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