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Metabolic responses of the limpet Patella caerulea (L.) to anoxia and dehydration.

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CoNISMa, ULR Firenze, c/o Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica, Università degli Studi di Firenze, via Romana 17, I-50125 Firenze, Italy.


This study examined the metabolic responses of the limpet Patella caerulea (L.) to anoxia and dehydration, attempting to tease apart the effect of these two stressful conditions, which are often not clearly distinguished in experiments. Specimens were exposed to: (a) oxygen-free sea water; (b) oxygen-saturated water (controls); (c) low-humidity air (55% RH); and (d) high-humidity air (100% RH). For each of the treatments, we took samples of five specimens after 6 and 18 h of exposure to the experimental conditions and determined the concentrations in the foot muscle of succinate, acetate, propionate, aspartate and alanine. Exposure to anoxia caused an increase in the levels of succinate (6 and 18 h) and acetate and propionate (18 h) with respect to control specimens. Anoxia also induced a decrease of aspartate and an increase of alanine after both 6 and 18 h. Exposure to both moist and dry air generally had negligible effects on the organic acid levels. Aspartate content increased after 18 h of exposure to moist air. Alanine levels also increased with respect to control values after exposure to air, with dry air having the more pronounced effect. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that one should be cautious when inferring anaerobic conditions from the simple exposure of intertidal species to air, without strict control of the experimental conditions and actual respiration rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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