The hagfishes provide valuable insight into the physiology of feeding, digestion and nutrient absorption by virtue of unusual and unique features of their biology. For example, members of this group undergo long periods of fasting, and are the only vertebrates known to absorb organic nutrients across their epidermal surface. Such properties engender significant attention from researchers interested in feeding and feeding-related processes; however, the practical realities of employing the hagfish as an experimental organism can be challenging. Many of the key tools of the experimental biologist are compromised by a species that does not readily feed in captivity, is difficult to instrument and which produces copious quantities of slime. This Commentary provides critical insight into the key aspects of hagfish feeding and digestive processes, and highlights the pitfalls of this group as experimental organisms. We also suggest key research gaps that, if filled, will lead to better understanding of hagfishes, and we consider how this group may advance our knowledge of feeding, digestion and nutrient absorption processes.
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Biology|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|