Marine Biology

, Volume 98, Issue 2, pp 169–180

Metabolism, enzymic activities and cold adaptation in Antarctic mesopelagic fishes

  • J. J. Torres
  • G. N. Somero

DOI: 10.1007/BF00391192

Cite this article as:
Torres, J.J. & Somero, G.N. Mar. Biol. (1988) 98: 169. doi:10.1007/BF00391192


Several species of Antarctic mesopelagic fishes that have different minimal depths of occurrence but the same environmental temperature were collected in November–December 1983 and in March 1986 between 0 and 1 000 m in the open water near the marginal ice zone in the vicinity of 60°S 40°W (1983) and 65°S 46°W (1986), and oxygen consumption rate (VO2) and the activity of two metabolic enzymes, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH, an indicator of the anaerobic potential of locomotory muscle) and citrate synthase (CS, an indicator of citric acid cycle activity or aerobic potential), were determined. In four dominant species, whole-individual oxygen-consumption rate (y, ml O2 individual−1 h−1) varied with weight (X, g) according to the equation y=aXb, with b values falling between 0.889 and 1.029. The relation of weight-specific LDH activity (y, U g−1 wet wt) with weight (x, g) was also described by the equation y=aXb, with b values varying between 0.229 and 1.025. Weight-specific CS activity declined with weight, with b values from-0.031 to-0.369. V2O, LDH activity and CS activity all declined markedly with increased species' minimum depth of occurrence (the depth below which 90% of a species' population lives). Comparisons with previous studies on ecologically equivalent species of the California Borderland indicate that depth-related decreases in metabolism are the result of adapted traits of deeper-living species, not declining temperature within the water column. The metabolic rate of Antarctic mesopelagic fishes is approximately twice that of California species at equivalent temperatures; similar rates were found at the normal habitat temperatures of the two groups. Thus, a well-developed compensation for temperature is present in the Antarctic fishes: cold adaptation. Differences in enzymic activity among species, and among different sized individuals of a species are related to differences in metabolic rate and locomotory capacity. Enzymic indices can be used to estimate metabolic rates and evaluate ecological parameters such as predatory strategies and niche separation.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Torres
    • 1
  • G. N. Somero
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biology Research Division, A-002, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA