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Braz J Biol. 2002 Aug;62(3):495-501.

Specialized metabolism and biochemical suppression during aestivation of the extant South American lungfish--Lepidosiren paradoxa.

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  • 1Laboratório de Ecologia e Ecofisiologia Molecular, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Alameda Cosme Ferreira, 1756, CEP 69000-000, Aleixo, Manaus, AM, Brazil.


Lepidosiren paradoxa (pirambóia) is the single representative of Dipnoan (lungfish) in South America. This species is considered a living fossil, in spite of some reports describing this fish as having a very specialized life style. It aestivates during the dry season, and has developed metabolic adaptations to cope with both flooding and drought. The literature describing its tissue ultra-structure shows high glycogen stored in the muscle, suggesting a strong dependence on anaerobic glycolysis. The present paper reports tissue enzyme levels of LDH, MDH, and CS, and isozymic tissue distribution of LDH, MDH, ADH, PGI, SOD, and PGM of 7 aestivating specimens from Lago do Canteiro in the Amazonas River. Animals were caught while burrowed in mud during the aestivation period. Our findings reveal high anaerobic capacity of both skeletal and heart muscles, even during the aestivation period, when enzymes showed suppressed levels compared to those of non-aestivating animals (data from the literature). Isozymic patterns suggest loss of duplicate condition in most analyzed loci, a characteristic that occurs mainly in higher vertebrate categories. These data indicate that, compared to the fish group, lungfish may be considered advanced, despite retaining primitive morphological characters.

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