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Muscle development in the tambaqui, an important Amazonian food fish


  • V. L. A. Vieira,

    1. Departamento de Pesca, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Recife, CEP 52171-900, Pernambuco, Brazil
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  • I. A. Johnston

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological & Medical Sciences, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 8LB, Scotland, U.K.
      *Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: 01334 463440; fax: 01334 463443; email:
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*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: 01334 463440; fax: 01334 463443; email:


Eggs of the tambaqui Colossoma macropomum were incubated at 28 and 31) C. Somitogenesis started shortly after the formation of the neural plate and notochord. New somites were added at the rate of one every 13 min at 28) C and one every 11 min at 31) C. Myogenesis started in the most rostral myotomes at the 9-somite stage and proceeded in a caudal direction. Mononuclear myotubes with the morphological characteristic of muscle pioneer cells were observed lateral to the notochord. The majority of myotubes were formed from the fusion of 3–6 spindle-shaped myoblasts. Myofibril synthesis started soon after cell fusion at the periphery of myotubes. Close membrane contacts and ‘gap’-type junctions were observed between myotubes, immature muscle fibres and at the inter-somite boundary, suggesting that the cells were electrically coupled. Embryos exhibited rhythmic movements at the 20-somite stage, and hatched at the 29–30-somite stage 15–18 h post-fertilisation (PFT) at 28° C and 11 h PFT at 31° C. Larvae hatched at a comparatively early stage of development prior to the completion of somitogenesis and the formation of eye pigment, pectoral fins and jaws. The myotomes comprised a single superficial layer of well-differentiated muscle fibres which contained abundant mitochondria, overlying an inner core of myotubes (presumptive white muscle layer). Differentiation and growth during the larval stages was extremely rapid, and the juvenile stage was reached after little more than 6 days at 28° C.

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