Maximal sprint speeds and muscle fiber composition of wild and laboratory house mice

Physiol Behav. 1995 Nov;58(5):869-76. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(95)00148-c.


We compared males from four groups of house mice (Mus domesticus), all bred and raised under common conditions in the laboratory: randombred Hsd:ICR; a wild population from Wisconsin; hybrids from lab dams; hybrids from wild dams. Wild mice were much faster sprinters (maximal forced sprint speeds over 1.0 m ranged from 2.38 to 3.34 m/s) than were lab mice (range = 0.89-1.68 m/s). Hybrids exhibited intermediate speeds (range = 1.54-2.70 m/s) and body masses, indicating largely additive inheritance. Type-specific mean muscle fiber cross-sectional areas of the gastrocnemius muscle did not differ significantly among groups. Percentage cross-sectional areas occupied by each of the three identified fiber types also did not differ significantly among groups, nor did they covary with body mass. For their body mass, however, lab mice had smaller gastrocnemius muscles than did wild and hybrid mice, which had muscles of similar size. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that smaller gastrocnemius muscles or slight differences in fiber composition account for the lower sprint speeds of the lab mice, we suggest that differences in unmeasured physiological, behavioral or motivational factors are probably the primary cause. This interpretation is supported by a lack of correlation between individual differences in sprint speed and either relative gastrocnemius muscle mass or muscle fiber type composition.

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

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Animals, Wild
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Organ Size
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*