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J Exp Biol. 2005 Sep;208(Pt 17):3249-61.

Muscle fiber angle, segment bulging and architectural gear ratio in segmented musculature.

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Department of Biology and Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


The anatomical complexity of myomeres and myosepta has made it difficult to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between muscle fiber architecture, connective tissue mechanics, and locomotor function of segmented axial musculature in fishes. The lateral hypaxial musculature (LHM) of salamanders is less anatomically complex and therefore a good system for exploring the basic mechanics of segmented musculature. Here, we derive a mathematical model of the LHM and test our model using sonomicrometry and electromyography during steady swimming in an aquatic salamander, Siren lacertina. The model predicts longitudinal segment strain well, with predicted and measured values differing by less than 5% strain over most of the range. Deviations between predicted and measured results are unbiased and probably result from the salamanders performing slight turns with associated body torsion in our unconstrained trackway swimming experiments. Model simulations of muscle fiber contraction and segment shortening indicate that longitudinal segment strain, for a given amount of muscle fiber strain, increases with increasing initial fiber angle. This increase in architectural gear ratio (AGR = longitudinal strain/fiber strain) is mediated by muscle fiber rotation; the higher the initial fiber angle, the more the fibers rotate during contraction and the higher the AGR. Muscle fiber rotation is additionally impacted by bulging in the dorsoventral (DV) and/or mediolateral (ML) dimensions during longitudinal segment shortening. In segments with obliquely oriented muscle fibers, DV bulging increases muscle fiber rotation, thereby increasing the AGR. Extending the model to include force and work indicates that force decreases with increasing initial muscle fiber angle and increasing DV bulging and that both longitudinal shortening and DV bulging must be included for accurate calculation of segment work.

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