Oxygen transport capacity in the air-breathing fish, Megalops cyprinoides: compensations for strenuous exercise

R Wells, John Baldwin, Roger Seymour, R Baudinette, Keith Christian, Michael Bennett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Tarpon have high resting or routine hematocrits (Hct) (37.6±3.4%) and hemoglobin concentrations (120.6±7.3 g l -1) that increased significantly following bouts of angling-induced exercise (51.9±3.7% and 142.8±13.5 g l -1, respectively). Strenuous exercise was accompanied by an approximately tenfold increase in blood lactate and a muscle metabolite profile indicative of a high energy demand teleost. Routine blood values were quickly restored only when this facultative air-breathing fish was given access to atmospheric air. In vitro studies of oxygen transport capacity, a function of carrying capacity and viscosity, revealed that the optimal Hct range corresponded to that observed in fish under routine behaviour. During strenuous exercise however, further increase in viscosity was largely offset by a pronounced reduction in the shear-dependence of blood which conformed closely to an ideal Newtonian fluid. The mechanism for this behaviour of the erythrocytes appears to involve the activation of surface adrenergic receptors because pre-treatment with propranolol abolished the response. High levels of activity in tarpon living in hypoxic habitats are therefore supported by an elevated Hct with adrenergically mediated viscosity reduction, and air-breathing behaviour that enables rapid metabolic recovery. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-53
    Number of pages9
    JournalComparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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