Osmoregulation in elephant fish Callorhinchus milii (Holocephali), with special reference to the rectal gland
Hyodo, S and Bell, JD and Healy, JM and Kaneko, T and Hasegawa, S and Takei, Y and Donald, JA and Toop, T, Osmoregulation in elephant fish Callorhinchus milii (Holocephali), with special reference to the rectal gland, Journal of Experimental Biology, 210, (8) pp. 1303-1310. ISSN 0022-0949 (2007) [Refereed Article]
Osmoregulatory mechanisms in holocephalan fishes are poorly understood except that these fish are known to conduct urea-based osmoregulation as in elasmobranchs. We, therefore, examined changes in plasma parameters of elephant fish Callorhinchus milii, after gradual transfer to concentrated (120%) or diluted (80%) seawater (SW). In control fish, plasma Na and urea concentrations were about 300 mmol l-1 and 450 mmol l-1, respectively. These values were equivalent to those of sharks and rays, but the plasma urea concentration of elephant fish was considerably higher than that reported for chimaeras, another holocephalan. After transfer to 120% SW, plasma osmolality, urea and ion concentrations were increased, whereas transfer to 80% SW resulted in a fall in these parameters. The rises in ion concentrations were notable after transfer to 120% SW, whereas urea concentration decreased predominantly following transfer to 80% SW. In elephant fish, we could not find a discrete rectal gland. Instead, approximately 10 tubular structures were located in the wall of post-valvular intestine. Each tubular structure was composed of a putative salt-secreting component consisting of a single-layered columnar epithelium, which was stained with an anti-Na+,K+-ATPase serum. Furthermore, Na+,K+-ATPase activity in the tubular structures was significantly increased after acute transfer of fish to concentrated SW (115%). These results suggest that the tubular structures are a rectal gland equivalent, functioning as a salt-secreting organ. Since the rectal gland of elephant fish is well developed compared to that of Southern chimaera, the salt-secreting ability may be higher in elephant fish than chimaeras, which may account for the lower plasma NaCl concentration in elephant fish compared to other chimaeras. Since elephant fish have also attracted attention from a viewpoint of genome science, the availability of fish for physiological studies will make this species an excellent model in holocephalan fish group.