Hydraulic control of tuna fins: A role for the lymphatic system in vertebrate locomotion

Science. 2017 Jul 21;357(6348):310-314. doi: 10.1126/science.aak9607.


The lymphatic system in teleost fish has genetic and developmental origins similar to those of the mammalian lymphatic system, which is involved in immune response and fluid homeostasis. Here, we show that the lymphatic system of tunas functions in swimming hydrodynamics. Specifically, a musculo-vascular complex, consisting of fin muscles, bones, and lymphatic vessels, is involved in the hydraulic control of median fins. This specialization of the lymphatic system is associated with fish in the family Scombridae and may have evolved in response to the demand for swimming and maneuvering control in these high-performance species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Fins / anatomy & histology
  • Animal Fins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Lymphatic Vessels / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Tuna / anatomy & histology
  • Tuna / physiology*