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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 Oct;287(4):R902-10. Epub 2004 Jun 17.

Oxygen limitation of thermal tolerance in cod, Gadus morhua L., studied by magnetic resonance imaging and on-line venous oxygen monitoring.

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Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research, 27568 Bremerhaven, Germany.


The hypothesis of an oxygen-limited thermal tolerance due to restrictions in cardiovascular performance at extreme temperatures was tested in Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua (North Sea). Heart rate, changes in arterial and venous blood flow, and venous oxygen tensions were determined during an acute temperature change to define pejus ("getting worse") temperatures that border the thermal optimum range. An exponential increase in heart rate occurred between 2 and 16 degrees C (Q(10) = 2.38 +/- 0.35). Thermal sensitivity was reduced beyond 16 degrees C when cardiac arrhythmia became visible. Flow-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of temperature-dependent blood flow revealed no exponential but a hyperbolic increase of blood flow with a moderate linear increase at temperatures >4 degrees C. Therefore, temperature-dependent heart rate increments are not mirrored by similar increments in blood flow. Venous Po(2) (Pv(O(2))), which reflects the quality of oxygen supply to the heart of cod (no coronary circulation present), followed an inverse U-shaped curve with highest Pv(O(2)) levels at 5.0 +/- 0.2 degrees C. Thermal limitation of circulatory performance in cod set in below 2 degrees C and beyond 7 degrees C, respectively, characterized by decreased Pv(O(2)). Further warming led to a sharp drop in Pv(O(2)) beyond 16.1 +/- 1.2 degrees C in accordance with the onset of cardiac arrhythmia and, likely, the critical temperature. In conclusion, progressive cooling or warming brings cod from a temperature range of optimum cardiac performance into a pejus range, when aerobic scope falls before critical temperatures are reached. These patterns might cause a shift in the geographical distribution of cod with global warming.

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