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Mechanical performance of scallop adductor muscle during swimming


MECHANICAL performance of skeletal muscle has long been the subject of intense interest1, but the details of in vivo performance of individual skeletal muscles during normal locomotion remain largely unknown. Performance in vitro has been described with considerable precision under simplified loading conditions2. The force production and shortening velocity of most muscles, however, probably change continuously during natural movements. Therefore, modelling in vivo performance on the basis of in vitro contractile properties3 is subject to large degrees of uncertainty. Designing in vitro experiments that effectively examine the limits of mechanical performance requires increasing knowledge of precisely how muscles are used during normal movements. We report here measurements of the mechanical performance of the adductor muscle in scallops during jet-propulsion swimming. Swimming in scallops is powered solely by the striated portion of the single adductor muscle. Exploiting this simple locomotor morphology with simultaneous high-resolution measurements of pressure and flow rate, we have recorded nearly instantaneous measurements of the performance of a single skeletal muscle during normal locomotion.

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Marsh, R., Olson, J. & Guzik, S. Mechanical performance of scallop adductor muscle during swimming. Nature 357, 411–413 (1992).

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