Optimal embryonic development plays a major role in the health of an individual beyond the developmental stage. Nutritional perturbation during development is associated with cardiovascular and metabolic disease later in life. With both nutritional uptake and overall growth being risk factors for eventual health, it is necessary to understand not only the behavior of the processes during development but also their interactions. In this study, we used differential equations, image analyses, curve fittings, parameter estimation and laboratory experiments to quantify the rate of yolk absorption and its effect on early development of a vertebrate model (Danio rerio). Findings from this study establish a nonlinear functional relationship between nutrient absorption and early fish growth. We found that the rate of change in fish length and yolk utilization is logistic, that is the yolk decays rapidly for a period of time before leveling out. An interesting finding from this study is that yolk utilization reaches its maximum at 84 hours post fertilization. We validated our mathematical models against experimental observations, making them powerful tools for replication and future simulations.

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