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Title: The osmotic response of the Asian freshwater stingray (Himantura signifer) to increased salinity: A comparison with marine (Taeniura lymma) and Amazonian freshwater (Potamotrygon motoro) stingrays
Authors: Tam, W.L.
Wong, W.P.
Loong, A.M.
Hiong, K.C.
Chew, S.F.
Ballantyne, J.S.
Ip, Y.K. 
Keywords: Amino acid
Freshwater stingray
Himantura signifer
Ornithine-urea cycle
Potamotrygon motoro
Taeniura lymma
Urea transporter
Issue Date: Sep-2003
Citation: Tam, W.L., Wong, W.P., Loong, A.M., Hiong, K.C., Chew, S.F., Ballantyne, J.S., Ip, Y.K. (2003-09). The osmotic response of the Asian freshwater stingray (Himantura signifer) to increased salinity: A comparison with marine (Taeniura lymma) and Amazonian freshwater (Potamotrygon motoro) stingrays. Journal of Experimental Biology 206 (17) : 2931-2940. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The white-edge freshwater whip ray Himantura signifer can survive in freshwater (0.7%c) indefinitely or in brackish water (20‰) for at least two weeks in the laboratory. In freshwater, the blood plasma was maintained hyperosmotic to that of the external medium. There was approximately 44 mmol l-1 of urea in the plasma, with the rest of the osmolality made up mainly by Na+ and Cl-. In freshwater, it was not completely ureotelic, excreting up to 45% of its nitrogenous waste as urea. Unlike the South American freshwater stingray Potamotrygon motoro, H. signifer has a functional ornithine-urea cycle (OUC) in the liver, with hepatic carbamoylphosphate synthetase III (CPS III) and glutamine synthetase (GS) activities lower than those of the marine blue-spotted fan tail ray Taeniura lymma. More importantly, the stomach of H. signifer also possesses a functional OUC, the capacity (based on CPS III activity) of which was approximately 70% that in the liver. When H. signifer was exposed to a progressive increase in salinity through an 8-day period, there was a continuous decrease in the rate of ammonia excretion. In 20‰ water, urea levels in the muscle, brain and plasma increased significantly. In the plasma, osmolality increased to 571 mosmol kg-1, in which urea contributed 83 mmol l-1. Approximately 59% of the excess urea accumulated in the tissues of the specimens exposed to 20‰ water was equivalent to the deficit in ammonia excretion through the 8-day period, indicating that an increase in the rate of urea synthesis de novo at higher salinities would have occurred. Indeed, there was an induction in the activity of CPS III in both the liver and stomach, and activities of GS, ornithine transcarbamoylase and arginase in the liver. Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in the rate of urea excretion during passage through 5‰, 10‰ and 15‰ water. Although the local T. lymma in full-strength sea water (30‰) had a much greater plasma urea concentration (380 mmol l-1), its urea excretion rate (4.7 μmol day-1 g-1) was comparable with that of H. signifier in 20‰ water. Therefore, H. signifer appears to have reduced its capacity to retain urea in order to survive in the freshwater environment and, consequently, it could not survive well in full-strength seawater.
Source Title: Journal of Experimental Biology
ISSN: 00220949
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.00510
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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