Blind cavefish retain functional connectivity despite loss of retinal input

Published: 21 July 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/y9j999yk25.1
Evan Lloyd,


Sensory systems display remarkable plasticity and are under strong evolutionary selection. The Mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, consists of eyed river-dwelling surface populations, and multiple independent cave populations which have converged on eye loss, providing the opportunity to examine the evolution of sensory circuits in response to environmental perturbation. Functional analysis across multiple transgenic populations expressing GCaMP6s showed that functional connectivity of the optic tectum largely did not differ between populations, except for the selective loss of negatively correlated activity within the cavefish tectum, suggesting positively correlated neural activity is resistant to an evolved loss of input from the retina. Further, analysis of surface-cave hybrid fish reveals that changes in the tectum are genetically distinct from those encoding eye-loss. Together, these findings uncover the independent evolution of multiple components of the visual system and establish the use of functional imaging in A. mexicanus to study neural circuit evolution. The uploaded data consists of .mat files containing time-lapse flourescence intensity data and related supplementary data, for experiments oultine in the associated article. Time-lapse images were collected on either a confocal Nikon A1 (light stimulus experiments) or two-photon Nikon A1R (spontaneous activity recordings). Following acquisition, time-lapse images were motion corrected using the "moco" plugin in ImageJ/FIJI. Following motion correction, time-lapse images were processed in MATLAB using the calcium imaging processing toolbox published in Romano et al., 2017 (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005526). Further details on the formatting of this dataset can be found in that publication.



Texas A&M University Central Texas


Evolutionary Biology, Functional Imaging, Sensory Neuroscience