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Microsc Res Tech. 2012 May;75(5):643-9. doi: 10.1002/jemt.21105. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Morphology of the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) tongue.

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Dipartimento di Morfologia, Biochimica, Fisiologia e Produzione Animale, Sezione di Morfologia, Università di Messina, Messina, Italia.


The European sea bass, a member of the Moronidae family, is a food fish, considered one of the first models for the intensive breeding in salt water. It has nowadays an important and increasing presence in the international fishing markets. Sea basses are carnivorous, feeding on little fishes and invertebrates. Considering the important role of the tongue during the intraoral transport and the swallowing of food, scarce data are present in literature about its morphology. The aim of this study was to analyze the morphology of the tongue by means of scanning electron and light microscopy. Adult sea basses were obtained from the aquarium of the Sicilian Center of Experimental Ichthyiopathology of the University of Messina. The fishes were anaesthetized with MS 222 and the heads were then quickly removed and processed for the paraffin embedding and SEM processing. Three different tongue regions could be distinguished: an apex, a body, and a root. Scanning electron and light microscopy showed the presence of numerous canine-like teeth, surrounded by taste buds and numerous fungiform and conical papillae. The teeth were curved and their tips were posteriorly oriented. The results confirm, in teleosts too, the fundamental role of the tongue in the mechanics of food ingestion. Moreover, the presence of taste buds demonstrates the interaction of food processing and taste. These data could be a potential source to identify new and better methods of nutrition in the breeding of this fish.

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