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Phenotypic differences in terrestrial frog embryos: Effect of water potential and phase


Andrewartha, SJ and Mitchell, NJ and Frappell, P, Phenotypic differences in terrestrial frog embryos: Effect of water potential and phase, Journal of Experimental Biology, 211 pp. 3800-3807. ISSN 0022-0949 (2008) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2008 The Company of Biologists Limited

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DOI: doi:10.1242/jeb.017913


The terrestrial embryos of many amphibians obtain water in two ways; in a liquid phase from the substrate on which eggs are deposited, and in a vapour phase from the surrounding atmosphere. We tested whether the mode of water flux (liquid or vapour) affected the morphology and metabolic traits of the terrestrial Victorian smooth froglet (Geocrinia victoriana) embryos by incubating eggs both with a liquid water source and at a range of vapour water potentials. We found that embryos incubated with a liquid water source (ψπ = 0 kPa) were better hydrated than embryos incubated with a vapour water source (ψv = 0 kPa), and grew to a larger size. Eggs incubated in atmospheres with lower ψv values showed significant declines in mass and in the thickness of the jelly capsule, while embryos primarily showed reductions in dry mass, total length, tail length and fin height. The most significant deviations from control (ψv = 0 kPa) values were observed when the ψv of the incubation media was less than the osmotic water potential (ψπ) of the embryonic interstitial fluid (approximately 425 kPa). Despite the caveat that a ψv of 0 kPa is probably difficult to achieve under our experimental conditions, the findings indicate the importance for eggs under natural conditions of contacting liquid water in the nesting substrate to allow swelling of the capsule.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:water balance, water potential, osmotic pressure, vapour pressure, relative humidity, isopiestic, embryo, Geocrinia victoriana, Myobatrachidae, Anura, amphibian
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Comparative physiology
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Other animal production and animal primary products
Objective Field:Animal welfare
UTAS Author:Andrewartha, SJ (Dr Sarah Andrewartha)
UTAS Author:Frappell, P (Professor Peter Frappell)
ID Code:68875
Year Published:2008
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-29
Last Modified:2019-03-28

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