The giant fiber and pectoral fin adductor motoneuron system in the hatchetfish. Academic Article uri icon


  • In the medulla of the hatchetfish each Mauthner fiber forms chemical synapses on a number of large myelinated axons termed giant fibers. The giant fibers form rectifying electrotonic synapses on pectoral fin adductor motoneurons, and in this fish bilateral pectoral fin adduction is an important component of the Mauthner fiber-mediated escape reflex. The branching patterns of giant fibers were determined by intracellular injection of Lucifer yellow. Dye coupling to the motoneuron somata was not observed, although a low level of transfer might have been obscured by autofluorescence. Individual giant fibers terminate primarily on pectoral fin motoneurons contralateral to their cell bodies, but may also send a branch back across the midline to ipsilateral motoneurons. The rostral process of each giant fiber ends on neurons presumably associated with cranial musculature. The number and geometry of the pectoral fin motoneurons were determined using Golgi and Nissl staining and serial reconstruction methods.

publication date

  • February 12, 1986