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Title: Exposure to brackish water, upon feeding, leads to enhanced conservation of nitrogen and increased urea synthesis and retention in the Asian freshwater stingray Himantura signifer
Authors: Chew, S.F.
Poothodiyil, N.K.
Wong, W.P.
Ip, Y.K. 
Keywords: Ammonia
Himantura signifer
Nitrogen metabolism
Issue Date: Feb-2006
Citation: Chew, S.F., Poothodiyil, N.K., Wong, W.P., Ip, Y.K. (2006-02). Exposure to brackish water, upon feeding, leads to enhanced conservation of nitrogen and increased urea synthesis and retention in the Asian freshwater stingray Himantura signifer. Journal of Experimental Biology 209 (3) : 484-492. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The white-edge freshwater whip ray Himantura signifer is ammonotelic in freshwater, but retains the capacities of urea synthesis and ureosmotic osmoregulation to survive in brackish water. The first objective of this study was to examine whether exposure to brackish water would lead to increases in food intake, and/or conservation of nitrogen in H. signifer upon daily feeding. Results obtained showed that a progressive increase in ambient salinity, from 1‰ to 15‰ over a 10-day period, did not lead to an increase in daily food intake. However, there were significant reductions in daily rates of ammonia and urea excretion in H. signifer during salinity changes, especially between day 5 (in 10‰ water) and day 10 (in 15‰ water) when compared to those of the control kept in 1‰ water. Consequently, there was a significant decrease in the percentage of nitrogen (N) from the food being excreted as nitrogenous waste (ammonia-N+urea-N) during this period. On day 10, the tissue urea contents in fish exposed to 15‰ water were significantly greater than those of fish kept in 1‰ water, and the excess urea-N accumulated in the former fish could totally account for the cumulative deficit in excretion of urea-N+ammonia-N during the 10-day period. Thus, it can be concluded that H. signifer is N-limited, and conserved more N from food when exposed to brackish water. The conserved N was converted to urea, which was retained in tissues for osmoregulation. The second objective of this study was to elucidate whether the retention of the capacity of N conservation in H. signifer would lead to an accumulation of urea in fish exposed to not only 15‰ water, but also 1‰ water, upon feeding. For fish pre-acclimated to 1‰ water or 15‰ water for 10 days and then fasted for 48 h, the rate of ammonia excretion in fish exposed to 15‰ water was consistently lower than that of fish exposed to 1‰ water, throughout the 36-h post-feeding period. In addition, the hourly rate of urea excretion in the former was significantly lower than that of the latter between hours 12 and 36. There were postprandial increases in ammonia contents in the muscle, liver, stomach, intestine, brain and plasma of fish kept in 1‰ water; but postprandial increases in ammonia occurred only in the liver and brain of fish exposed to 15‰ water, and the magnitudes of increases in the latter were smaller than those in the former. Indeed, postprandial increases in tissue urea contents occurred in both groups of fish, but the greatest increase in urea content was observed in the muscle of fish exposed to 15‰ water. Taken together, these results indicate that H. signifer in freshwater could be confronted with postprandial osmotic stress because of its capacity of conserving N and increasing urea synthesis upon feeding.
Source Title: Journal of Experimental Biology
ISSN: 00220949
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02002
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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