, Volume 50, Issue 8, pp 745–748 | Cite as

Primitive actimoterigian fishes can synthesize ascorbic acid

  • K. Dabrowski
Research Articles


Amphibians and reptiles evolved with the capacity to synthesize ascorbic acid. Some higher vertebrates, like bats, guinea pigs, primates, and humans have lost the microsomal enzyme gulonolactone oxidase, and in cases of ascorbic acid deficiency suffer from symptoms of scurvy. The question of whether the capacity to synthesize ascorbate is also present in lower vertebrates could throw light on the evolution of this pathway. In order to find out whether ascorbic acid synthesis took place in two primitive Actinopterigian fish, the paddlefish (Polydon spathula) and the white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) were fed with a scorbutogenic diet or diet(s) supplemented with a graded level of ascorbic acid. We found no growth depression nor external symptoms of scurvy, which would be pronounced in modern bony fishes (Teleostei) under similar conditions. The tissue level of ascorbate in both these primitive species indicated that vitamin C in intestine and liver is not depleted when fed a scorbutogenic diet. Gulonolactone oxidase activity was found in the kineys of the Actinopterigian fishes. Thus, I question the accepted evolutionary pathway for ascorbic acid biosynthesis in lower vertebrates and suggest that the modern bony fishes,Teleostei, lost their ability to express the gulonolactone oxidase genes after they had separated during the Silurian from their common ancestor with the coelacanths (Latimeria) and Dipnoi.

Key words

Vitamin C sturgeon gulonolactone oxidase teleost Chondrostei Acipenser 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Dabrowski
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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