Rapid morphological oscillation of mitochondrion-rich cell in estuarine mudskipper following salinity changes

J Exp Zool. 2000 May 1;286(6):666-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-010x(20000501)286:6<666::aid-jez14>3.0.co;2-g.


Morphological changes in the chloride cells or mitochondrion-rich (MR) cells in the skin under the pectoral fin of the estuarine mudskipper (Periophthalmus modestus) were examined in relation to intertidal salinity oscillation in river mouth. MR cells were distinguished between those in contact with the water (cells labeled with both mitochondrial probe DASPEI and Concanavalin-A, an apical surface marker of MR cells) and those that are not (DASPEI-positive only). After transfer of the fish from seawater to freshwater, no difference in the total MR cell density was observed, but the subpopulation of MR cells that are Concanavalin-A-positive decreased dramatically within 30 min. After 6 hr in freshwater, the fish were returned to seawater; the number of Con-A-positive MR cells increased to the initial levels rapidly. Thus, in seawater, mudskippers seem to open the apical crypts of the MR cells to secrete salt; in freshwater, they close the crypt of the MR cells tentatively, and tolerate hypotonicity until the rising tide. This unique response of chloride cells may also be seen in gills of other estuarine species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Size
  • Concanavalin A / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Fresh Water
  • Male
  • Mitochondria* / metabolism
  • Pyridinium Compounds / metabolism
  • Seawater
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Concanavalin A
  • 2-(dimethylaminostyryl)-1-ethylpyridinium
  • Sodium Chloride