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Biochemical and hematological responses of the banded knife fish Gymnotus carapo (Linnaeus, 1758) exposed to environmental hypoxia

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Author(s): MORAES G. | AVILEZ I. M. | ALTRAN A. E. | BARBOSA C. C.

Journal: Brazilian Journal of Biology
ISSN 1519-6984

Volume: 62;
Issue: 4a;
Start page: 633;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: hypoxia | biochemical adaptation | Gymnotus carapo | metabolism | fish

ABSTRACT
Oxygen of tropical freshwater environments fluctuates drastically. Eutrophic lakes and ponds of warm waters frequently reach very low oxygen concentrations. This is the most common habitat of the banded knife fish "tuvira" Gymnotus carapo. This electric fish is reported to present bimodal breathing to cope with low environmental oxygen. Biochemical responses can be also observed in fishes facing hypoxia but none were studied in tuvira. In the present study, haematological and metabolic changes were investigated in two groups of fish exposed to hypoxia for 1 and 3 hours. Haematocrit, red blood cells and haemoglobin concentration indicated erythrocyte release from hematopoietic organs and swelling of red blood cells. Glycogen, glucose, lactate, pyruvate, and amino acids were quantified in liver, kidney and white muscle. The metabolic profile of G. carapo to cope with hypoxia suggested liver gluconeogenesis probably supported by proteolysis. The kidney and liver presented the same biochemical trend suggesting similar metabolic role for both organs. Glucogenolysis followed by glucose fermentation and protein mobilisation was observed in the white muscle. The air breathing behaviour of tuvira works in parallel with metabolism to prevent damages from hypoxia. Metabolic adjustments are observed when the air taking is avoided.
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