Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://doi.org/10.1086/383499
Title: African sharptooth catfish Clarias gariepinus Does not detoxify ammonia to urea or amino acids but actively excretes ammonia during exposure to environmental ammonia
Authors: Ip, Y.K. 
Zubaidah, R.M. 
Liew, P.C.
Loong, A.M.
Hiong, K.C.
Wong, W.P.
Chew, S.F.
Issue Date: Mar-2004
Citation: Ip, Y.K., Zubaidah, R.M., Liew, P.C., Loong, A.M., Hiong, K.C., Wong, W.P., Chew, S.F. (2004-03). African sharptooth catfish Clarias gariepinus Does not detoxify ammonia to urea or amino acids but actively excretes ammonia during exposure to environmental ammonia. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 77 (2) : 242-254. ScholarBank@NUS Repository. https://doi.org/10.1086/383499
Abstract: The African sharptooth catfish Clarias gariepinus lives in freshwater, is an obligatory air breather, and exhibits high tolerance of environmental ammonia. This study aimed at elucidating the strategies adopted by C. gariepinus to defend against ammonia toxicity during ammonia exposure. No carbamoyl phosphate synthetase (CPS) I or III activities were detected in the liver or muscle of the adult C. gariepinus. In addition, activities of other ornithine-urea cycle (OUC) enzymes, especially ornithine transcarbamylase, were low in the liver, indicating that adult C. gariepinus does not have a "functional" hepatic OUC. After being exposed to 50 or 100 mM NH 4Cl for 5 d, there was no induction of hepatic OUC enzymes and no accumulation of urea in tissues of the experimental animals. In addition, the rate of urea excretion remained low and unchanged. Hence, ammonia exposure did not induce ureogenesis or ureotely in C. gariepinus as suggested elsewhere for another obligatory air-breathing catfish of the same genus, Clarias batrachus, from India. Surprisingly, the local C. batrachus did not possess any detectable CPS I or III activities in the liver or muscle as had been reported for the Indian counterpart There were no changes in levels of alanine in the muscle, liver, and plasma of C. gariepinus exposed to 50 or 100 mM NH4Cl for 5 d; neither were there any changes in the glutamine levels in these tissues. Yet even after being exposed to 100 mM NH4Cl for 5 d, there was no significant increase in the level of ammonia in the muscle, which constitutes the bulk of the specimen. In addition, the level of ammonia accumulated in the plasma was relatively low compared to other tropical air-breathing fishes. More importantly, for all NH4Cl concentrations tested (10, 50, or 100 mM), the plasma ammonia level was maintained relatively constant (2.2-2.4 mM). These results suggest that C. gariepinus was able to excrete endogenous ammonia and infiltrated exogenous ammonia against a very steep ammonia gradient. When exposed to freshwater (pH 7.0) with or without 10 mM NH4Cl, C. gariepinus was able to excrete ammonia continuously to the external medium for at least 72 h. This was achieved while the plasma NH4 + and NH3 concentrations were significantly lower than those of the external medium. Diffusion trapping of NH3 through boundary layer acidification can be eliminated as the pH of the external medium became more alkaline instead. These results represent the first report on a freshwater fish (C. gariepinus) adopting active excretion of ammonia (probably NH 4 +) as a major strategy to defend against ammonia toxicity when exposed to environmental ammonia.
Source Title: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/100018
ISSN: 15222152
DOI: 10.1086/383499
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