Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) isozyme patterns of seven tissues in each of five species of snakes are described from their polyacrylamide gel electrophoretic characteristics. The tissues examined included vibratory tail muscle, non­ vibratory tail muscle, body epaxial muscle, heart muscle, whole blood, liver and kidney. The species of snakes included Crotalus adamanteus, C. h. horridus, Agkistrodon piscivorus and Sistrurus miliarius barbouri from the family Crotalidae and Natrix taxispilota from the family Colubridae. These snakes show a decreasing continuum of tail vibratory activity, respectively, to N. taxispilota, which has a non­vibratory tail muscle.

Crotalus adamanteus, C. h. horridus and A. piscivorus have similar LDH isozyme patterns. They represent a case of restricted subunit association and have only four isozymes rather than five which are characteristic of the majority of vertebrates. The missing heteropolymer was determined to be LDH-4 (A3B1) . This is the first time that the "four-isozyme" system has been reported in Crotalid snakes. Sistrurus m. barbouri and N. taxispilota show non-restricted subunit association and have the five-isozyme LDH pattern.

Muscles which contract rhythmically tend to show LDH patterns like those in heart muscle, therefore it was anticipated that rattlesnake vibratory muscle would exhibit a similar pattern. However, this was not the case as vibratory muscle LDH patterns resembled non-rhythmical body epaxial muscle patterns and not those of heart muscle.

Vibratory muscle and body epaxial muscle differed in heteropolymer bands LDH-2 (A1B3) and LDH-3 (A2B2), which were wider in vibratory muscle than in body epaxial muscle. There were positive correlations between muscle vibratory activity and increases in heteropolymer band width and intensity.

Vibratory muscle LDH patterns were found to be like the white skeletal muscle LDH patterns in most vertebrates and similar to liver LDH isozyrnes. Vibratory muscle and liver have LDH characteristic of anaerobic respiration, however both function in an aerobic environment. Vibratory muscle LDH could represent an alternate energy route during prolonged vibration when oxygen may not be readily available.

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