Structure and Function of the Axillary Organ of the Gulf Toadfish, Opsanus beta (Goode and Bean)

The structure of the axillary organ of a batrachoidid species, the gulf toadfish (Opsanus beta Goode and Bean 1879), has been examined and several simple experiments designed to elucidate its function performed. Electron microscopy (EM) studies revealed cells and structures suggesting secretory and iono regulatory roles (e.g., abundant intracytoplasmic secretory particles, rough endoplasmic reticulum, sparse Golgi bodies, indented epithelial cells with microvilli, numerous endocytotic vesicles, etc.). Our physiological experiments allowed us to reach several conclusions: the organs do not excrete significant quantities of urea relative to other areas of the fish (head and gills), the organs do not secrete a substance that is toxic to a teleost test fish (Gambusia affinis), the secretions do not induce short-term modifications in locomotory activity of other gulf toadfish (e.g., by pheromonal means) and the secretions do not inhibit the growth of several species of microorganisms in culture. The function of the organ and its secretions remains unknown, representing a fertile area for research on structure and function in comparative physiology.