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Locomotor performance and muscle metabolic capacities: impact of temperature and energetic status.

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Dép. de Biologie, Université Laval, Quebec, PQ, Canada G1K 7P4.


In aquatic ectotherms, muscle metabolic capacities are strongly influenced by exogenous factors, principally temperature and food availability. Seasonal changes in temperature lead many organisms to modify their metabolic machinery so as to maintain capacity even in "slower" cold habitats. Modifications of mitochondrial capacities are central in this response. The increases in protein-specific oxidative capacities of mitochondria during cold acclimation of temperate fishes do not occur during the evolutionary adaptation to cold in Antarctic species. Instead, Antarctic fishes tend to increase the proportion of fibre volume devoted to mitochondria, perhaps to facilitate intracellular distribution of oxygen and metabolites. Variation in energetic status can drastically modify muscle metabolic status, with glycolytic muscle changing more than oxidative muscle. This in turn impacts swimming performance. A decrease in the condition of cod leads endurance at speeds above Ucrit to drop by 70%. Sprint swimming is less affected, perhaps as it does not exhaust glycolytic muscle. We used interindividual variation in muscle metabolic capacities to identify correlates of swimming performance in stickleback and cod. Activities of cytochrome c oxidase in glycolytic muscle are a correlate of sprint swimming in stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and cod (Gadus morhua), whereas lactate dehydrogenase activities in glycolytic muscle are a correlate of cod endurance swimming. In scallops, gonadal maturation leads to virtually complete mobilisation of glycogen from muscle. This does not reduce the capacity of the scallops, Chlamys islandica and Euvola ziczac, to mount escape responses, but significantly slows their recuperation from exhaustive exercise. Muscle metabolic capacities fall in parallel with glycogen mobilisation. In the compromise between muscles' dual roles as a motor and a macromolecular reserve, a significant loss in locomotory ability occurs during gametogenesis and spawning. Reproductive fitness takes the upper hand over maintenance of performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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