The flexural stiffness of superficial neuromasts in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) lateral line

Matthew J. McHenry*, Sietse M. van Netten

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

88 Citaten (Scopus)
258 Downloads (Pure)


Superficial neuromasts are structures that detect water flow on the surface of the body of fish and amphibians. As a component of the lateral line system, these receptors are distributed along the body, where they sense flow patterns that mediate a wide variety of behaviors. Their ability to detect flow is governed by their structural properties, yet the micromechanics of superficial neuromasts are not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine these mechanics in zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae by measuring the flexural stiffness of individual neuromasts. Each neuromast possesses a gelatinous cupula that is anchored to hair cells by kinocilia. Using quasi-static bending tests of the proximal region of the cupula, we found that flexural stiffness is proportional to the number of hair cells, and consequently the number of kinocilia, within a neuromast. From this relationship, the flexural stiffness of an individual kinocilium was found to be 2.4x10(-20) N m(2). Using this value, we estimate that the 11 kinocilia in an average cupula generate more than four-fifths of the total flexural stiffness in the proximal region. The relatively minor contribution of the cupular matrix may be attributed to its highly compliant material composition (Young's modulus of similar to 21 Pa). The distal tip of the cupula is entirely composed of this material and is consequently predicted to be at least an order of magnitude more flexible than the proximal region. These findings suggest that the transduction of flow by a superficial neuromast depends on structural dynamics that are dominated by the number and height of kinocilia.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)4244-4253
Aantal pagina's10
TijdschriftJournal of Experimental Biology
Nummer van het tijdschrift23
StatusPublished - 1-dec.-2007

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