The chemosensory anterior dorsal fin in rocklings (Gaidropsarus and Ciliata, Teleostei, Gadidae): activity, fine structure and innervation


*Address for correspondence


Observations and experiments on the behaviour of shore rocklings have shown that the modified and vibratile anterior dorsal fin can be involved in the detection of food but is not essential to foraging by the fish. The epidermis of the vibratile fin rays contains numerous chemosensory cells, of similar cytology in the two species studied. These chemosensory cells are compared with the gustatory cells of the taste buds borne on other fin rays. Synaptic modifications in both cases consist of densities on the apposed membranes, with a dense layer under the membrane of the neurite more distinct than that in the cell. Vesicles are not a feature of these synapses, although some of the sensory cell bases are vesicular. Denervation experiments have shown that the chemosensory cells of the vibratile rays are supplied by a facial nerve component. After denervation a small proportion of the sensory cells were found to have an association with spinal nerve fibres. The present status of solitary chemosensory cells in fishes is discussed.