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Mechanical properties of red and white swimming muscles as a function of the position along the body of the eel Anguilla anguilla
D’Août, K.; Curtin, N.A.; Williams, T.L.; Aerts, P. (2001). Mechanical properties of red and white swimming muscles as a function of the position along the body of the eel Anguilla anguilla. J. Exp. Biol. 204(13): 2221-2230
In: Journal of Experimental Biology. Cambridge University Press: London. ISSN 0022-0949, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    European eel; Anguilla anguilla; swimming; muscle mechanics; red muscle;white muscle; kinetics; power; work

Authors  Top 
  • D’Août, K., more
  • Curtin, N.A.
  • Williams, T.L.
  • Aerts, P., more

Abstract
    The way in which muscles power steady swimming depends on a number of factors, including fibre type and recruitment, muscle strain, stimulation pattern and intensity, and the intrinsic mechanical properties of the muscle fibres. For a number of undulatory swimming fish species, in vivo studies have shown that muscles at different positions along the body are stimulated during different phases of the strain cycle. Moreover, some intrinsic contractile properties of the muscles have been found to vary according to their position along the body.We report the first results on the mechanical properties of the red and white muscles of an anguilliform swimmer, Anguilla anguilla. Small preparations (0.147–1.335mg dry mass) were dissected from positions at fractions of 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 of total body length (BL). We determined the time to 50% and 100% peak force and from the last stimulus to 50% relaxation for isometric contractions; we measured the sarcomere lengths that coincided with in situ resting length. None of these quantities varied significantly with the longitudinal position from which the fibres were taken. We also measured power and work output during contractions under conditions approximating those used in vivo (cycle frequency, 1Hz; strain amplitude, ±10%L0, where L0 is the length giving maximum isometric force). During these experiments, work output was affected by stimulation phase, but did not depend on the longitudinal position in the body from which the muscles were taken.Our results indicate that red and white eel muscles have uniform properties along the body. In this respect, they differ from the muscle of most non-anguilliforms, in which muscle kinetics varies in a systematic way along the body. Uniform properties may be beneficial for anguilliform swimmers, in which the amplitude of the travelling wave can be pronounced over the entire body length.

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