Lateral line ablation by ototoxic compounds results in distinct rheotaxis profiles in larval zebrafish

Kyle C. Newton, Dovi Kacev, Simon R.O. Nilsson, Allison L. Saettele, Sam A. Golden, Lavinia Sheets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The zebrafish lateral line is an established model for hair cell organ damage, yet few studies link mechanistic disruptions to changes in biologically relevant behavior. We used larval zebrafish to determine how damage via ototoxic compounds impact rheotaxis. Larvae were treated with CuSO4 or neomycin to disrupt lateral line function then exposed to water flow stimuli. Their swimming behavior was recorded on video then DeepLabCut and SimBA software were used to track movements and classify rheotaxis behavior, respectively. Lateral line-disrupted fish performed rheotaxis, but they swam greater distances, for shorter durations, and with greater angular variance than controls. Furthermore, spectral decomposition analyses confirmed that lesioned fish exhibited ototoxic compound-specific behavioral profiles with distinct changes in the magnitude, frequency, and cross-correlation between fluctuations in linear and angular movements. Our observations demonstrate that lateral line input is needed for fish to hold their station in flow efficiently and reveals that commonly used lesion methods have unique effects on rheotaxis behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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