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Vertebrate pigmentation provides an ideal system for studying the intersections between evolution, genetics, and developmental biology. Teleost fish, with their accessible developmental stages and intense and diverse colours produced by chromatophores, are an ideal group for study. We set out to test whether Betta splendens is a good model organism for studying the evolution and development of diverse pigmentation. Our results demonstrate that B. splendens can be bred to produce large numbers of offspring with easily visualized pigment cells. Depending on the colour of the parents, there was variation in larval pigmentation patterns both within and between breeding events. In juveniles the developing adult pigmentation patterns showed even greater variation. These results suggest that B. splendens has great potential as a model organism for pigmentation studies.
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