Fibre types in the locomotory muscles of an Antarctic teleost, notothenia rossii. A histochemical ultrastructural and biochemical study

Cell Tissue Res. 1980;208(1):143-64. doi: 10.1007/BF00234180.


The metabolic and structural differentiation of locomotory muscles of Notothenia rossii has been investigated. In this species sustained locomotion is achieved by sculling with enlarged pectoral fins (labriform locomotion), whilst the segmental myotomal muscle is reserved for burst activity. Red, white and subepidermal fibres can be distinguished in the trunk by histochemical and ultrastructural criteria. The main pectoral muscle (m. adductor profundus) consists entirely of red fibres. These three main fibres types show differences in histochemical staining profiles, capillarization, myofibril shape and packing, and lipid and mitochondrial content. The fractional volume of mitochondria amounts to 38% for pectoral, 30% for red myotomal and 1.9% for white myotomal fibres. Enzyme activities of red pectoral muscle are consistent with a higher potential for aerobic glucose and fatty acid oxidation than for the red myotomal fibres. Mg2+ Ca2+-myofibrillar ATPase activities are similar for red pectoral and myotomal muscles and approximately half of those white fibres. Specialisations of N. rossi muscles associated with labriform swimming and locomotion at Antarctic temperatures are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antarctic Regions
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / ultrastructure
  • Muscles / enzymology
  • Muscles / ultrastructure*
  • Myofibrils / ultrastructure
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Sarcolemma / ultrastructure
  • Swimming


  • Oxidoreductases
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Hydrolases