Both red and white muscle were removed from juvenile and adult Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus L., for histochemical characterization of the muscle fibre types. Staining of white muscle for myosin ATPase, SDH, NADH diaphorase, GPDH and LDH revealed that these fibres are homogeneous. Red muscle was shown to be heterogeneous, of at least two fibre types recognizable on the basis of myosin ATPase staining with preincubation at a pH of 9·8. These two red types are dispersed throughout the red muscle and are present in both juveniles and adults. Red muscle is located both deep within the myotomes and as a superficial layer of muscle fibres. A third group of muscle fibres, intermediate in nature, was distinguished at the apex of the red muscle ‘triangle,’ between the epaxial and hypaxial muscle, using NADH diaphorase and myosin ATPase stains. This paper discusses the possibility that functionally different muscle fibres occur in the red swimming muscle of the Atlantic mackerel.
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