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Phenotypic flexibility in the intestinal enzymes of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis.

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Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile.


The intestinal plasticity of digestive enzymes of amphibian species is poorly known. The goal of this study was to characterize digestive enzyme profiles along the small intestine of adult frogs, Xenopus laevis, in response to an experimental diet. We acclimated adult X. laevis for 30 days either to carbohydrate-rich or protein-rich diets, and determined the morphology and digestive enzymes of the small intestine. We found a significant difference of aminopeptidase-N activity between carbohydrate-rich and protein-rich acclimated animals. We also found a little variation in the expression of maltase activity, which contrast with the proposed hypothesis about the existence of digestive tradeoff in vertebrates. This finding supports the adaptive modulation hypothesis and suggests that caution is called for when analyzing physiological data regarding assumed discrete trophic category of species.

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