Osmotic responses of eggs and larvae of the Pacific herring to salinity and cadmium

  • D. F. Alderdice
  • T. R. Rao
  • H. Rosenthal


Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) eggs fertilized in 20‰S and incubated in 5, 20 or 35‰ S at 5°C, some being cross-transferred between 5 and 35‰ S, 61.8 hr after fertilization, showed variable yolk and perivitelline fluid (PVF) osmolalities until beginning of epiboly. Coincident with blastopore closure and for a period of ca. 150 hr thereafter (period of stability), both yolk and PVF osmoconcentrations were relatively constant. Thereafter osmolalities rose slowly to asymptotic levels prior to hatching. Osmolal values in the period of relative stability (100–250 hr) were approximately (a) yolk: 285–310 (5‰ S), 350 (20‰ S), and 390 mOsm (35‰ S); (b) perivitelline fluid: 105–118 (5‰ S), 370 (20‰ S), and 530–670 mOsm (35‰ S). Prior to hatching, these were (a) yolk: 330–350 (5‰ S), 400 (20‰ S), and 460–480 mOsm (35‰ S); (b) perivitelline fluid: 175–210 (5‰ S), 530 (20‰ S), and 850–860 mOsm (35‰ S). Yolk osmolalities decreased, after hatching of the larvae, to approximate those levels attained between 100 and 250 hr. An hypothesis is presented whereby minimum osmotic work is defined on the basis of isosmotic relations existing between yolk, perivitelline fluid, and incubation medium. This leads to the description of a range of salinities defined in terms of osmoregulatory scope. At the 5°C test temperature, incubation salinities associated with maximum osmoregulatory scope (13.2–19‰) correspond closely to the range of salinities providing maximum or near-maximum hatches of viable larvae. The presence of a salinity-temperature interaction and its inlfuence on the association between osmoregulatory scope and production of viable larvae is suggested as a mechanism underlying and providing the recognized plasticity of Pacific herring egg development. In a companion study involving cadmium as a contaminant, eggs incubated at 20‰ S were exposed to 0, 1 or 10 ppm Cd in 5, 20 or 35‰ S for 48-hr periods at six stages of development between fertilization and hatching. Cd exposure resulted in a reduction in osmolality of perivitelline fluid. Reduction was greater in higher Cd concentrations and in eggs transferred to higher salinities. An hypothesis is presented to explain observed effects of Cd exposure on some physical properties of teleost eggs, including reductions in perivitelline fluid osmolality and egg volume. Finally, newly hatched (0-, 3-, 6- and 9-day old) larvae from eggs incubated at 20‰ S (8.5°C) were exposed to salinities from 0 to 50‰ for a period of 72 hr. Median tolerance limits (72-hr) were 2.8–5.2‰ for low salinities and 33–35.8‰ for high salinities. No trends in salinity tolerance were noted amongst the four ages of larvae. The data suggest that natural larvae entrained in sea water would be susceptible to salinity-induced mortality in salinities greater than about 20‰ However, this conclusion is subject to confirmation in view of the low/low-high/high salinity-temperature interaction previously noted in relation to egg development, and its possible continuing influence in larval stages.


Viable Larva Pacific Herring Fluid Osmolality Perivitelline Fluid Blastopore Closure 
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Eier des pazifischen Herings wurden mit einem Salzgehalt von 20‰ S befruchtet und in 5,20 und 35‰ S bei 5°C erbrütet. Etwa 62 h nach der Befruchtung wurden Eier aus einigen Erbrütungsansätzen von 5 nach 35‰ S und von 35 nach 5‰ überführt. Die Veränderungen der Osmokonzentration der perivitellinen Flüssigkeit und des Dotters wurden in allen Versuchsreihen von der Befruchtung an bis zum Schlupf im 24-h-Intervall verfolgt. In allen fünf Versuchskombinationen war die Osmolalität des Dotters und der perivitellinen Flüssigkeit bis zum Einsetzen der Epibolie sehr variabel. Unmittelbar nach Verschluß des Blastoporus (105–130 h nach der Befruchtung) war in beiden Medien ein relativ stabiler Zustand der osmotischen Verhältnisse erreicht, der bis zu einem Alter der Embryonen von 250 h anhielt. Danach stieg die Osmokonzentration bis zum Schlupf auf ein Maximum asymptotisch an. Das Verhältnis zwischen Salinität und den Osmokonzentrationen des Dotters und der perivitellinen Flüssigkeit zur Zeit der relativen osmotischen Stabilität deutet darauf hin, daß ein Minimum an osmoregulatorischer Arbeit bei einem Salzgehalt von 10.3 bis 11.1‰ S aufgebracht werden muß, während kurz vor dem Schlupf dieser Wert bei 12–12.3‰ S liegt. Für den Dotter liegen die optimalen Osmokonzentrationen, bei denen ein Minimum an osmoregulatorischer Arbeit zu leisten ist, für die beiden entsprechenden Inkubationsabschnitte bei 10.3–19‰ S und 12–13.2‰ S. In diesem Salzgehaltsbereich werden auch maximale Schlupfraten gesunder, lebensfähiger Larven erzielt. In einer weiteren Versuchsreihe wurden Eier, die in 20‰ S bei 5°C befruchtet waren, auf sechs verschiedenen Entwicklungsstadien in Salzgehalte von 5,20 und 35‰ S überführt, wobei die Inkubationsmedien gleichzeitig mit Cadmium (Konzentrationen: 0,1 und 10 ppm) kontaminiert waren. Im Verlauf von 48 h nach der Überführung der Eier in diese Inkubationsmedien lag eine deutliche Erniedrigung der Osmolalität in der Periviltellinflüssigkeit vor. Sie stieg mit zunehmendem Salzgehalt und zunehmender Cadmiumkonzentration. In einer weiteren Versuchsreihe wurden geschlüpfte Larven (Alter 0, 3, 6 und 9 Tage) 72 h lang verschiedenen Salzgehalten zwischen 0 und 50‰ S ausgesetzt. Die unteren und oberen MTL-Werte (mittlere Toleranzgrenze) lagen bei 2.8–5.2‰ und 33–35.8‰ S. Die Salzgehaltstoleranz war nicht abhängig vom Alter der Larven. Die Osmolalität des Dotters frischgeschlüpfter Larven entspricht der von Embryonen zur Zeit weitgehender osmotischer Stabilität (100–250 h nach der Befruchtung).

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Copyright information

© Biologischen Anstalt Helgoland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. F. Alderdice
    • 1
  • T. R. Rao
    • 1
  • H. Rosenthal
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and the EnvironmentFisheries and Marine Service, Pacific Biological StationNanaimoCanada
  2. 2.Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (Zentrale)Hamburg 50Federal Republic of Germany

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