Acid–base regulation in the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister)

Homeostatic regulation allows organisms to secure basic physiological processes in a varying environment. To counteract fluctuations in ambient carbonate system speciation due to elevated seawater pCO2 (hypercapnia), many aquatic crustaceans excrete/accumulate acid–base equivalents through their gills; however, not much is known about the role of ammonia in this response. The present study investigated the effects of hypercapnia on acid–base and ammonia regulation in the Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister on the whole animal and isolated gill levels. Hemolymph pCO2 and [HCO3 ] increased in M. magister acclimated to elevated pCO2 (330 Pa), while pH remained stable. Additionally, hemolymph [Na+], [Ca2+], and [SO4 2−] were significantly increased. When challenged with varying pH during gill perfusion, the pH of the artificial hemolymph remained relatively unchanged. Overall, ammonia production and excretion, as well as oxygen consumption, were reduced in crabs acclimated to elevated pCO2, demonstrating that either (amino acid) oxidation is reduced in response to this particular stress, or nitrogenous wastes are excreted in an alternative form.

Hans S., Fehsenfeld S., Treberg J. R. & Weihrauch D., in press. Acid–base regulation in the Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister). Marine Biology. Article (restricted access).

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