Polymer Science Faculty Research

The fine structure of the developing pelvic fin dermal skeleton in the trout Salmo gairdneri

William Landis, The University of Akron


The morphogenetic and ultrastructural features of the dermal skeleton in the pelvic fin bud of a teleost, the rainbow trout Salmo gairdneri, have been examined by light and electron microscopy. The principal structural components observed are lepidotrichia and actinotrichia. Lepidotrichia consist of two parallel and symmetrical bony demirays that form jointed segments within the fin. The demirays calcify in a proximodistal direction within the extracellular collagen network of the basal lamella belonging to the epidermal-dermal interface of the fin. Needle- and plate-like particles of a solid mineral phase appear to be associated with the collagen fibrils and with a fine, granular, interfibrillar material central to the demirays. Cellular processes and membrane-bound vesicles are absent from the regions of calcification. During fin growth, the bony, acellular lepidotrichia are separated from the epidermal-dermal interface by infiltrating mesenchymal cells in proximal fin regions; in distal areas, the lepidotrichia remain within the basal lamella. The actinotrichia are extensive unmineralized rods of elastoidin that occupy the distal margin of the fin and precede the differentiation of lepidotrichia. Once the lepidotrichia form, actinotrichia lie preferentially between their demirays. In some instances, structural interactions are suggested between actinotrichia and lepidotrichia. Considerations of embryologic and structural features of fin components fail to support the hypothesis that individual segments of lepidotrichia are modified scales in all fish.