Characterisation of the swimming muscles of two Subantarctic notothenoids


  • Daniel Alfredo Fernández CADIC-CONICET
  • Jorge Calvo CADIC-CONICET
  • Ian Alistair Johnston Gatty Marine Laboratory, School of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology, University of St. Andrews



Subantarctic notothenioids, muscle histochemistry, swimming muscles, myosin ATPase


The histochemical characteristics and distribution of muscle fibre types have been investigated in the swimming muscles of the róbalo, Eleginops maclovinus and the lorcho, Patagonotothen tessellata, Subantarctic notothenioids that inhabit the Beagle Channel. The fibre types were differentiated on the basis of glycogen and lipid contents and succinate dehydrogenase and myofibrillar ATPase (mATPase) activities. White, red, intermediate and tonic fibres were present in the axial muscle of both species. The same fibre types were identified in the pectoral fin adductor muscles, although the intermediate type was absent. The mATPase technique performed at room temperature (21ºC) allowed a good differentiation of fibre types, overcoming the problems found by previous researchers when applying this technique to Antarctic notothenioids. Four different zones (peripheral, mosaic, main and adjacent to the bone) were found in the adductor profundis muscle. The proportion of the zones varied along the length of the adductor muscle. For both species, the percentage of red fibres found in the axial muscles was less than 5%, indicating that sustained swimming ability is not dependent on these muscles. The pectoral muscle mass/carcase mass ratio was significantly greater in E. maclovinus than in P. tessellata, reflecting a greater capacity for sustained swimming using pectoral fins.


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How to Cite

Fernández DA, Calvo J, Johnston IA. Characterisation of the swimming muscles of two Subantarctic notothenoids. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 1999Dec.30 [cited 2024May26];63(S1):477-84. Available from: