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The effect of vaterite deposition on sound reception, otolith morphology, and inner ear sensory epithelia in hatchery-reared Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

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The inner ear of teleost fishes contains three calcareous structures (otoliths) that are part of the organs for hearing and balance. The largest of these structures, the sagitta, is usually composed of calcium carbonate crystals in the form of aragonite, but the calcium carbonate also occurs less frequently in a clear crystallized form called vaterite. We investigated the functional consequences of otolith crystal structure on hearing in juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using the auditory brainstem response technique. A significant loss of sensitivity (2.5–6.5 dB) occurred within the primary hearing range (100–300 Hz) among salmon that had at least one vateritic sagitta. Auditory thresholds were not significantly different in fish with one vs. two vaterite sagittae. Crystallized sagittae were significantly larger and less dense than their aragonite counterparts. Saccular epithelium shape and hair bundle orientation patterns did not differ between saccules with different crystal types. There was, however, a propensity for the saccular epithelia from vateritic sagittae to have fewer sensory hair bundles. We conclude that significant hearing loss was associated with the occurrence of vateritic sagittae and suggest that hearing loss is caused by the lower density of the vaterite otoliths.

L’oreille interne des poissons téléostéens contient trois structures calcaires (otolithes) qui font partie des organes de l’ouïe et de l’équilibre. La plus grande de ces structures, la sagitta, est généralement composée de cristaux de carbonate de calcium sous forme d’aragonite, mais le carbonate de calcium peut aussi se présenter plus rarement sous une forme cristalline claire nommée vatérite. Nous avons étudié les conséquences fonctionnelles de la structure cristalline des otolithes sur l’ouïe chez de jeunes saumons chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) à l’aide de la technique de la réaction du tronc cérébral auditif. Une perte significative de sensibilité (2,5–6,5 dB) se produit dans la zone principale d’audition (100–300 Hz) chez les saumons qui possèdent au moins une sagitta en vatérite. Il n’y a pas de différence significative de seuil auditif entre les poissons qui ont une ou deux sagittas en vatérite. Les sagittas cristallisées sont significativement plus grandes et moins denses que les sagittas en aragonite. La forme de l’épithélium sacculaire et les patrons d’orientation des touffes de poils ne diffèrent pas dans les saccules qui contiennent différents types de cristaux. Il y a, cependant, une tendance chez les épithéliums sacculaires associés aux sagittas en vatérite à posséder moins de touffes de poils sensoriels. Nous concluons qu’il y a une importante perte auditive associée à la présence de sagittas en vatérite et nous croyons que la perte auditive est causée par la densité moindre des otolithes en vatérite. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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