Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 603–609 | Cite as

The oral cavity and bioluminescent organs of the cardinal fish species Siphamia permutata and S. cephalotes (Perciformes, Apogonidae)

  • L. FishelsonEmail author
  • O. Gon
  • M. Goren
  • R. Ben-David-Zaslow
Research Article


The mechanism of bacterial-derived bioluminescence in the apogonid species Siphamia permutata and S. cephalotes presents some special structures, particularly the existence of two sites harboring bioluminescent bacteria, and not only one as previously described. One site, is the familiar disc-like, bacteria-harboring “gland” and paired ventral “bioluminescent reflectors”, typical for this genus, that merge and end at the level of the hypobranchial region. The second and more anteriorly situated site of luminescence features two sacs that originate in the gular region and protrude into the oral cavity, via the free space left by the laterally notched tongue. The apical parts of these luminous sacs harbor the bacteria whose light diffuses within the oral cavity. The tongue surface in the studied species is unique in character among the cardinal fishes, being criss-crossed anteriorly by protruding dermal ridges, rich in taste buds and mucus-producing cells. It would appear that at night when feeding, the luminous mouth cavity of these fish acts as a lure to attract the small prey, while the ridged structure of the tongue’s surface facilitates their collection and aggregation before they are swallowed.


Oral Cavity Light Organ Luminous Bacterium Tongue Surface Perciform Fish 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to express their gratitude to A. Hay and M. McGrouther of the Australian Museum, Sydney, for donating the specimens of S. cephalotes. Thanks are also due to Y. Delarea for preparation of the micrographs and N. Paz for editing the manuscript. The constructive remarks of the reviewers that contributed to the final form of the manuscript are appreciated. The experimental work in this study complied with the current laws in Israel.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Fishelson
    • 1
    Email author
  • O. Gon
    • 2
  • M. Goren
    • 1
  • R. Ben-David-Zaslow
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life SciencesTel Aviv UniversityTel Aviv Israel
  2. 2.South African Institute for Aquatic BiodiversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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