Journal : Biology Letters , vol. 2 , p. 590–592–3 , 2006
International Standard Numbers
Printed : 1744-9561
Electronic : 1744-957X
Publication type : Academic article
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Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) with the HbI-(2/2) haemoglobin phenotype have a higher blood oxygen affinity at low temperatures and a lower routine metabolic rate than individuals with the HbI-(1/1) phenotype. In the present study, muscle structure was found to be related to haemoglobin phenotype in a coastal population of Atlantic cod from the Saltenfjord region of Northern Norway. The maximum number of fast muscle fibres ( FNmax) was reached at approximately 39 cm fork length and was 15% greater in the HbI-(1/1) than in the HbI-(2/2) phenotypes whereas the average fibre diameter for fish of the same fork length was significantly lower. Theoretically, the higher oxygen affinity of the HbI-(2/2) phenotype in the cold water of northern latitudes could have resulted in a relaxation of diffusional constraints at the level of individual muscle fibres, permitting the observed increase in fibre diameter. The results support the optimal fibre number hypothesis which envisages a trade-off between diffusional constraints and the energy cost of maintaining ionic homeostasis with fewer larger diameter muscle fibres in the HbI-(2/2) phenotype contributing to a lower routine metabolic rate.