Temperature sensitivity of the electric organ discharge waveform in Gymnotus carapo

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2001 Dec;187(11):853-64. doi: 10.1007/s00359-001-0256-8.


At the southern boundary of gymnotiform distribution in America. water temperature changes seasonally, and may be an environmental cue for the onset of breeding. In this study, we aim to describe the role of temperature upon electric organ discharge waveform in Gymnotus carapo, order Gymnotiformes, family Gymnotidae, and to analyze its interactions with the effects of steroid hormones. The effects of water temperature within its natural range were explored using different protocols. All fish tested had temperature-sensitive electric organ discharge waveforms: the amplitude of the last head-negative component (V4) decreased as temperature increased. Rate increases elicited by electrical stimulation had similar but smaller effect on waveform. Temperature sensitivity is a peripheral phenomenon that depends on the conductivity of the aquatic media. We found hormonal-dependent changes in the electric organ discharge waveform not previously described in this species. The amplitude and duration of V4 increased after testosterone administration. Both testosterone treatment and acclimation by sustained temperature at 27-28 degrees C (environmental simulation of breeding conditions) induced a decrease in temperature sensitivity. As in the related species Brachyhypopomus pinnicaudatus, our data strongly suggest interactions between temperature sensitivity of the electric organ discharge waveform and sexual maturity that might be crucial for reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Animals
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gymnotiformes / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Temperature
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Thermosensing / drug effects
  • Thermosensing / physiology*
  • Water


  • Water
  • Testosterone