Otoconia biogenesis, phylogeny, composition and functional attributes

  • C. D. Fermin
  • D. Lychakov
  • A. Campos
  • H. Hara
  • E. Sondag
  • T. Jones
  • S. Jones
  • M. Taylor
  • G. Meza Ruiz
  • D. S. Martin
Keywords: otoliths, otoconial membrane, biogenesis, maturation, composition, evolution, gravity, hypergravity, aminoglycosides, evoked potentials


This work consolidates data about these interesting organic crystals of vertebrate inner ears. It addresses 5 aspects of inner ear otoliths not completely understood to date: 1) embryological data that explains the formation of the crystals, 2) the significance of the organic and the inorganic phase of the otolith and the changing patterns of otoconia formation along the evolutionary tree, 3) otoliths contribution for detecting linear acceleration, 4) the effect that altered gravity and aminoglycosides have on the development and adult shape of the crystals, and the evolutionary significance of a changing shape of the crystals from primitive forms (lamprey) to high vertebrate birds and mammals is discussed, 5) functional attributes of the otolithic organs and morphological modifications of the otoliths by physical and chemical insults are presented with an extensive discussion of the most relevant literature published and available to us.

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