Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 184, Issue 5, pp 519–527

The sensory basis of rheotaxis in the blind Mexican cave fish, Astyanax fasciatus

Authors

  • C. F. Baker
    • Experimental Biology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019 Auckland, New Zealand e-mail: c.baker@auckland.ac.nz Tel.: +64-9-373-7599, ext. 7208; Fax: +64-9-373-7417
  • J. C. Montgomery
    • Experimental Biology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019 Auckland, New Zealand e-mail: c.baker@auckland.ac.nz Tel.: +64-9-373-7599, ext. 7208; Fax: +64-9-373-7417
ORIGINAL PAPER

DOI: 10.1007/s003590050351

Cite this article as:
Baker, C. & Montgomery, J. J Comp Physiol A (1999) 184: 519. doi:10.1007/s003590050351

Abstract

The sensory basis of rheotaxis (orientation to currents) was investigated in the blind Mexican cave fish, Astyanax fasciatus. An unconditioned rheotactic response to uniform velocity flows was exhibited, with a threshold of less than 3 cm s−1. Disabling the entire lateral line or the superficial neuromast receptor class increased the rheotactic threshold to greater than 9 cm s−1. A pharmacological block of the lateral line canal system alone had no effect. These results demonstrate that the superficial lateral line system controls rheotaxis at low current velocities. The effect of pairing an odor stimulant with the water current dropped the rheotactic threshold to less than 0.4 cm s−1. This study provides a clear behavioral role for the superficial neuromasts where none previously existed, and also establishes a link between the mechanosensory lateral line and olfactory systems in the olfactory search behavior of the cave fish.

Key words Lateral lineRheotaxisOlfactoryCave fish

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999