Localization and seasonal variation of blue pigment (sandercyanin) in walleye (Sanders vitreus)

Wayne F. Schaefer, Mark H. Schmitz, Vicki S. Blazer, Timothy J. Ehlinger, John A. Berges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Several fish species, including the walleye (Sander vitreus), have “yellow” and “blue” color morphs. In S. vitreus, one source of the blue color has been identified as a bili-binding protein pigment (sandercyanin), found in surface mucus of the fish. Little is known about the production of the pigment or about its functions. We examined the anatomical localization and seasonal variation of sandercyanin in S. vitreus from a population in McKim Lake, northwestern Ontario, Canada. Skin sections were collected from 20 fish and examined histologically. Mucus was collected from 306 fish over 6 years, and the amount of sandercyanin was quantified spectrophotometrically. Sandercyanin was found solely on dorsal surfaces of the fish and was localized to novel cells in the epidermis, similar in appearance to secretory sacciform cells. Sandercyanin concentrations were significantly higher in fish collected in summer versus other seasons. Yellow and blue morphs did not differ in amounts of sandercyanin, suggesting that the observed blue color, in fact, arises from lack of yellow pigmentation in blue morphs. The function of the sandercyanin remains unclear, but roles in photoprotection and countershading are consistent with available data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume72
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 18 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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