Marine Biotechnology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 478–486 | Cite as

Resting Membrane Potentials Recorded On-site in Intact Skeletal Muscles from Deep Sea Fish (Sigmops gracile) Salvaged from Depths up to 1.000 m

  • Frederic von Wegner
  • Sumihiro Koyama
  • Tetsuya Miwa
  • Oliver FriedrichEmail author
Original Article


The effect of elevated ambient pressures in deep sea fish residing at certain bottom depths or even covering different depth levels during migration is poorly understood. Elevated pressures are known to influence membrane properties of various excitable tissues in many species. Reliable results on membrane properties require freshly isolated living cells and short decompression times. During a scientific cruise south of Japan, deep sea fish were sampled from depths up to 1.000 m by using the intelligent operative net sampling system IONESS. On-site electrophysiological recordings of resting membrane potentials were performed in freshly isolated skeletal muscles from Sigmops gracile. Experiments were conducted at various extracellular K+ concentrations to derive relative membrane ion permeabilities and estimate intracellular K+ concentrations [K+]i in the muscles studied. With increasing sampling depth, a tendency for depolarized resting membrane potentials was observed. This could be explained by an increase in relative Na+ over K+ resting membrane permeabilities. Fish samples from deeper sites also had larger [K+]i values compared with shallower sites. This study represents a first approach to perform sophisticated physiological live-cell experiments on board a fully operating ship. These data are expected to more realistically reflect the physiological state of biological preparations residing in the deep sea.


Deep sea fish Skeletal muscle Resting membrane potential High pressure Sigmops gracile 



This work was supported by grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG) to F.v.W. and O.F. (FR1499/4-1), the EU COST D30 program to O.F., and a donation from SITEC, Eberdingen, Switzerland. The authors thank the crew of the JAMSTEC research vessel Kaiyo for their help and support during the KY06/11 cruise.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederic von Wegner
    • 1
  • Sumihiro Koyama
    • 2
  • Tetsuya Miwa
    • 2
  • Oliver Friedrich
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Medical Biophysics Unit, Department of Systems Physiology, Institute of Physiology & PathophysiologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Extremobiosphere Research Center, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)YokosukaJapan

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