Characterization of the primary sonic muscles in Carapus acus (Carapidae): a multidisciplinary approach

E. Parmentier, V. Gennotte, B. Focant, G. Goffinet, P. Vandewalle

Abstract

Sound production in carapid fishes results from the action of extrinsic muscles that insert into the swim bladder. Biochemical, histochemical and morphological techniques were used to examine the sonic muscles and compare them with epaxial muscles in Carapus acus. Sonic fibres are thicker than red and thinner than white epaxial fibres, and sonic fibres and myofibrils exhibit an unusual helicoidal organization: the myofibrils of the centre are in a straight line whereas they are more and more twisted towards the periphery. Sonic muscles have both features of red (numerous mitochondria, high glycogen content) and white (alkali–stable ATPase) fibres. They differ also in the isoforms of the light chain (LC3) and heavy chain (HC), in having T tubules at both the Z–line and the A–I junction and in a unique parvalbumin isoform (PAI) that may aid relaxation. All these features lead to the expression of two assumptions about sound generation: the sonic muscle should be able to perform fast and powerful contractions that provoke the forward movement of the forepart of the swim bladder and the stretching and ‘flapping’ of the swim bladder fenestra; the helicoidal organization allows progressive drawing of the swim bladder fenestra which emits a sound when rapidly released in a spring–like manner.