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J Fish Biol. 2019 Apr;94(4):595-605. doi: 10.1111/jfb.13943.

Does dissolved organic carbon from Amazon black water (Brazil) help a native species, the tambaqui Colossoma macropomum to maintain ionic homeostasis in acidic water?

Author information

Laboratory of Ecophysiology and Molecular Evolution, National Institute for Amazonian Research, Manaus, Brazil.
Santa Cecília University (Unisanta), Santos, Brazil.
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Institute of Technology for Development - Lactec Institutes, Curitiba, Brazil.
Biosciences Institute, São Paulo State University - UNESP, São Vicente, Brazil.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada.


To assess how the quality and properties of the natural dissolved organic carbon (DOC) could drive different effects on gill physiology, we analysed the ionoregulatory responses of a native Amazonian fish species, the tambaqui Colossoma macropomum, to the presence of dissolved organic carbon (DOC; 10 mg l-1 ) at both pH 7.0 and pH 4.0 in ion-poor water. The DOC was isolated from black water from São Gabriel da Cachoeira (SGC) in the upper Rio Negro of the Amazon (Brazil) that earlier been shown to protect a non-native species, zebrafish Danio rerio against low pH under similar conditions. Transepithelial potential (TEP), net flux rates of Na+ , Cl- and ammonia and their concentrations in plasma and Na+ , K+ ATPase; v-type H+ ATPase and carbonic anhydrase activities in gills were measured. The presence of DOC had negligible effects at pH 7.0 apart from lowering the TEP, but it prevented the depolarization of TEP that occurred at pH 4.0 in the absence of DOC. However, contrary to our initial hypothesis, SGC DOC was not protective against the effects of low pH. Colossoma macropomum exposed to SGC DOC at pH 4.0 experienced greater net Na+ and Cl- losses, decreases of Na+ and Cl- concentrations in plasma and elevated plasma ammonia levels and excretion rates, relative to those exposed in the absence of DOC. Species-specific differences and changes in DOC properties during storage are discussed as possible factors influencing the effectiveness of SGC DOC in ameliorating the effects of the acid exposure.


Amazon black water; Rio Negro; acidic water; ionoregulation; net fluxes; transepithelial potential


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