Muscle fibre types and metabolism in post-larval and adult stages of notothenioid fish
A histochemical study was carried out on muscle fibre types in the myotomes of post-larval and adult stages of seven species of notothenioid fish. There was little interspecific variation in the distribution of muscle fibre types in post-larvae. Slow fibres (diameter range 15–60 μm) which stained darkly for succinic dehydrogenase activity (SDHase) formed a superficial layer 1–2 fibres thick around the entire lateral surface of the trunk. In all species a narrow band of very small diameter fibres (diameter range 5–62 μm), with only weak staining activity, occurred between the skin and slow fibre layer. These have the characteristics of tonic fibres found in other teleosts. The remainder of the myotome was composed of fast muscle fibres (diameter range 9–75 μm), which stain weakly for SDHase, α-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase, glycogen and lipid. Slow muscle fibres were only a minor component of the trunk muscles of adult stages of the pelagic species Champsocephalus gunnari and Pseudochaenichthys georgianus, consistent with a reliance on pectoral fin swimming during sustained activity. Of the other species examined only Psilodraco breviceps and Notothenia gibberifrons had more than a few percent of slow muscle in the trunk (20%–30% in posterior myotomes), suggesting a greater involvement of sub-carangiform swimming at cruising speeds. The ultrastructure of slow fibres from the pectoral fin adductor and myotomal muscles of a haemoglobinless (P. georgianus) and red-blooded species (P. breviceps), both active swimmers, were compared. Fibres contained loosely packed, and regularly shaped myofibrils numerous mitochondria, glycogen granules and occasional lipid droplets. Mitochondria occupied >50% of fibre volume in the haemoglobinless species P. georgianus, each myofibril was surrounded by one or more mitochondria with densely packed cristae. No significant differences, however, were found in mean diameter between fibres from red-blooded and haemoglobinless species. The activities of key enzymes of energy metabolism were determined in the slow (pectoral) and fast (myotomal) muscles of N. gibberifrons. In contrast to other demersal Antarctic fish examined, much higher glycolytic activities were found in fast muscle fibres, probably reflecting greater endurance during burst swimming.