Advances in space research : the official journal of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

Swimming behaviour and calcium incorporation into inner ear otoliths of fish after vestibular nerve transection.

PMID 15803634


Previous investigations on neonate swordtail fish (Xiphophorus helleri) revealed that otolithic calcium incorporation (visualized using the calcium tracer alizarin complexone) and thus otolith growth had ceased after nerve transection, supporting a hypothesis according to which the gravity-dependent otolith growth is regulated neuronally. Subsequent investigations on larval cichlid fish (Oreochromis mossambicus) yielded contrasting results, repeatedly depending on the particular batch of cichlids investigated. Like most neonate swordtails, Type I cichlids revealed a stop of calcium incorporation after unilateral vestibular nerve transection. Their behaviour after transection was normal, and the otolithic calcium incorporation in controls of the same batch was symmetric. In Type II cichlids, however, vestibular nerve transection had no effect on otolithic calcium incorporation. They behaved kinetotically after transection (this kind of kinetosis was qualitatively similar to the swimming behaviour exhibited by larval cichlids during microgravity in the course of parabolic aircraft flights). The otolithic calcium incorporation in control animals was asymmetric. These results show that the effects of vestibular nerve transection as well as the efficacy of the mechanism, which regulates otolith growth/otolithic calcium incorporation, are--depending on the particular batch of animals--genetically predispositioned. In conclusion, the regulation of otolithic calcium incorporation is guided neuronally, in part via the vestibular nerve and, in part, via a further pathway, which remains to be addressed in the course of future investigations.

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Alizarin-3-methyliminodiacetic acid