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J Exp Biol. 2015 Dec;218(Pt 23):3739-45. doi: 10.1242/jeb.130633.

Paradoxical anaerobism in desert pupfish.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA.
School of Life Sciences, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA


In order to estimate metabolic demands of desert pupfish for conservation purposes, we measured oxygen consumption in fish acclimated to the ecologically relevant temperatures of 28 or 33°C. For these experiments, we used fish derived from a refuge population of Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis). Measurement of routine oxygen consumption (V̇O2,routine) revealed some 33°C-acclimated fish (10% of 295 assayed fish) periodically exhibited periods of no measurable oxygen consumption despite available ambient oxygen tensions that were above the critical PO2. We call this phenomenon paradoxical anaerobism. The longest observed continuous bout with no oxygen consumption was 149 min, although typical bouts were much shorter. Fish maintained normal posture and ventilation rate (>230 ventilations per minute) during paradoxical anaerobism. Fish rarely demonstrated a compensatory increase in oxygen use following a period of paradoxical anaerobism. In contrast, only one out of 262 sampled fish acclimated at 28°C spontaneously demonstrated paradoxical anaerobism. Muscle lactate concentration was not elevated during periods of paradoxical anaerobism. However, the amount of ethanol released by the 33°C-acclimated fish was 7.3 times greater than that released by the 28°C acclimation group, suggesting ethanol may be used as an alternative end product of anaerobic metabolism. Exposure to exogenous ethanol, in concentrations as low as 0.1%, produced periods of paradoxical anaerobism even in 28°C-acclimated fish.


Cyprinodon; Oxygen consumption; Thermal acclimation

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