Androgen effects on vocal muscle structure in a teleost fish with inter- and intra-sexual dimorphism

J Morphol. 1993 Jun;216(3):305-18. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1052160306.


The plainfin midshipman fish Porichthys notatus has both inter- and intra-sexual dimorphism in the sound-producing (vocal or sonic) muscles attached to the swimbladder wall. The "Type I" and "Type II" male morphs differ in that dramatic structural changes related to sexual maturity occur in the mass, the area of mitochondria-filled sarcoplasm, and the myofiber number of the sonic muscles of Type I males, but not in those of Type II males (nor of females). Androgen implantation for 9 weeks markedly increased the relative sonic muscle size in juvenile males, juvenile females, and Type II males, whereas estradiol or cholesterol treatment did not. The principal androgen effect on myofiber structure was an increase in the area of mitochondria-filled sarcoplasm. The ratio of sarcoplasm area to myofibril area (Sr/Mf) increased by 1.4- to 2-fold in myofibers of all androgen-treated groups, with the greatest structural change occurring in juvenile males. When androgen implants were removed from juvenile males, the muscle mass and Sr/Mf ratio reverted toward the unimplanted juvenile phenotype. Total fiber number in sonic muscle increased significantly in juvenile males following androgen implantation but did not detectably change in juvenile females or Type II males. These results suggest: 1) sonic muscle in Porichthys notatus is an androgen target tissue, 2) fiber structure and fiber number are androgen-sensitive features, and 3) there exist sex- and morph-specific patterns of sonic muscle responsiveness to androgen implants.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Drug Implants
  • Female
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Fishes / genetics
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Vocalization, Animal / drug effects*


  • Androgens
  • Drug Implants