, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 121-127

Hypo-osmotic regulation coupled with reduced metabolic urea in the dogfish Poroderma africanum: An analysis of serum osmolarity, chloride, and urea

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Abstract

“Pyjama sharks” (Poroderma africanum) were exposed to a wide range of salinities, over which blood serum was analysed for osmolarity, chloride and urea concentrations. Fish were divided into two groups, those fed twice weekly (high intake), and those fed once a month (low intake). Both groups were exposed to the same salinity range. “High intake” fish showed the characteristic elasmobranch osmolarity picture, with serum values slightly hyper-osmotic at all times. “Low intake” fish, however, showed a degree of hypo-osmotic regulation. Serum values for both groups overlapped at very low salinities. Serum urea was also affected by diet, so that again two distinct sets of values were produced, again with overlap at the lower salinities. When previously well-fed fish were starved over a period of one month, serum urea and osmolarity decreased simultaneously. Consequently, it is felt that serum osmolarity is directly related to serum urea levels. Serum chloride was not found to be affected by diet, both groups showing the same change in blood values when exposed to the same change in salinity. It is shown, however, that a reduction in food intake, over a period of more than a fortnight, can reduce metabolic urea to the extent of depressing serum osmolarity and, hence, shift the ionic and osmotic equilibrium between the fish and the sea water. This may result in varying degrees of hypoosmotic regulation.

Communicated by E. O. Bayagbona, Lagos and J. H. S. Blaxter, Oban