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Lateral Lines on Fish

Have you ever wondered how fish can communicate with each other or find their way around in murky water? Its all in the lateral lines.

pike

Information from wiki:

The lateral line is a system of sense organs found in aquatic vertebrates, chiefly fish, used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water. The sensory ability is achieved via modified epithelial cells, known as hair cells, which respond to displacement caused by motion and transduce these signals into electrical impulses via excitatory synapses. Lateral lines serve an important role in schooling behavior, predation, and orientation. They are usually visible as faint lines running lengthwise down each side, from the vicinity of the gill covers to the base of the tail. In some species, the receptive organs of the lateral line have been modified to function as electroreceptors, which are organs used to detect electrical impulses, and as such these systems remain closely linked. Most amphibian larvae and some fully aquatic adult amphibians possess mechanosensitive systems comparable to the lateral line.

Function:
The lateral line system allows the detection of movement and vibrations in the water surrounding an animal, providing spatial awareness and the ability to navigate in space. This plays an essential role in orientation, predatory behavior, and social schooling. In a 2001 study, researchers demonstrated that the lateral line system was necessary to detect vibrations made by prey and to orient towards the source to begin predatory action. Fish were able to detect movement, produced either by prey or a vibrating metal sphere, and orient themselves toward the source before proceeding to make a predatory strike at it. This behavior persisted even in blinded fish, but was greatly diminished when lateral line function was inhibited by CoCl2 application. This cobalt chloride treatment results in the release of Co2+ ions, disrupting ionic transport and preventing signal transduction in the laterla lines. Further trials utilizing either a gentamicin dip or external scraping of the lateral lines, to disrupt canal and superficial receptors respectively, demonstrated that these behaviors were dependent specifically on mechanoreceptors located within the canals of the lateral line. The role mechanoreception plays in schooling behavior was demonstrated in a 1976 study by Pitcher, et al. A school of Pollachius virens was established in a tank and individual fish were removed and subjected to different procedures before their ability to rejoin the school was observed. Fish that were experimentally blinded were able to reintegrate into the school, while fish with severed lateral lines were unable to reintegrate themselves. Therefore, reliance on functional mechanoreception, not vision, is essential for schooling behavior.

For more information go to wiki


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