The vertebrate hindbrain develops as a series of well-defined neuroepithelial segments or rhombomeres. While rhombomeres are visible in all vertebrate embryos, generally there is not any visible segmental anatomy in the brains of adults. Teleost fish are exceptional in retaining a rhombomeric pattern of reticulospinal neurons through embryonic, larval, and adult periods. We use this feature to map more precisely the segmental imprint in the reticular and motor basal hindbrain of adult goldfish. Analysis of serial sections cut in three planes and computer reconstructions of retrogradely labeled reticulospinal neurons yielded a segmental framework compatible with previous reports and more amenable to correlation with surrounding neuronal features. Cranial nerve motoneurons and octavolateral efferent neurons were aligned to the reticulospinal scaffold by mapping neurons immunopositive for choline acetyltransferase or retrogradely labeled from cranial nerve roots. The mapping corresponded well with the known ontogeny of these neurons and helps confirm the segmental territories defined by reticulospinal anatomy. Because both the reticulospinal and the motoneuronal segmental patterns persist in the hindbrain of adult goldfish, we hypothesize that a permanent “hindbrain framework” may be a general property that is retained in adult vertebrates. The establishment of a relationship between individual segments and neuronal phenotypes provides a convenient method for future studies that combine form, physiology, and function in adult vertebrates. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:2446–2464, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The hindbrain segmental scaffold in adult goldfish, established from known segmental locations of backfilled reticulospinal neurons in embryos, larvae, and adults, provides a framework allowing an alignment of cranial nerve motoneuronal and octavolateral efferent neuronal populations with individual rhombomeres.