Segregation of electroreceptive and mechanoreceptive lateral line afferents in the hindbrain of chondrostean fishes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The anterior lateral line nerve (ALLN) in the chondrostean fishes (sturgeon and paddlefishes) consists of both fibers innervating ampullary electroreceptors and fibers innervating the mechanoreceptive neuromasts of the cephalic lateral line system. The fibers of the posterior lateral line nerve (PLLN) innervate only mechanoreceptive neuromasts on the body trunk. The ALLN enters the medulla via dorsal and ventral roots; the dorsal root projects to the dorsal octavolateralis nucleus (DON), whereas the ventral root and the PLLN project principally to the medial octavolateralis nucleus (MON). Previous studies in elasmobranchs have demonstrated that fibers of the dorsal root of the ALLN convey electrosensory information, and fibers of the ventral root are concerned with mechanoreceptive information. Electrophysiological and neuroanatomical methods are employed in this study in order to determine if there exists a similar segregation of electroreceptive and mechanoreceptive lateral line afferents within the chondrostean medulla. In specimens of shovelnose, Scaphirhynchus platorynchus, and Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus, and paddlefish, Polyodon spathula, evoked potentials recorded from the hindbrain and elicited by electric fields reached maximum amplitude within the DON and decreased in amplitude through the cerebellar crest. Evoked potentials elicited by stimulation of the posterior lateral line nerve achieved maximum amplitude within the MON. Single and multiple unit recordings revealed that units within the DON responded only to electric field stimulation, whereas units recorded in the MON responded only to mechanical stimulation. Horseradish peroxidase implanted beneath isolated patches of ampullae in Polyodon revealed fibers innervating electroreceptors projecting to the DON via the dorsal root of the ALLN. These results demonstrate a segregation of electroreceptive and mechanoreceptive lateral line afferent fibers in the chondrostean hindbrain, similar to that seen in elasmobranchs. This supports the contention that the electrosensory systems of elasmobranchs and chondrosteans are homologous, and are derived from the common ancestor of elasmobranch and actinopterygian fishes.

publication date

  • June 10, 1985