Short-term low-salinity tolerance by the longhorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus octodecimspinosus

Academic Article


  • The bottom-dwelling, longhorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus octodecimspinosus, is traditionally viewed as a stenohaline marine fish, but fishermen have described finding this sculpin in estuaries during high tide. Little is known about the salinity tolerance of the longhorn sculpin; thus, the purposes of these experiments were to explore the effects of low environmental salinity on ion transporter expression and distribution in the longhorn sculpin gill. Longhorn sculpin were acclimated to either 100% seawater (SW, sham), 20% SW, or 10% SW for 24 or 72 hr. Plasma osmolality, sodium, potassium, and chloride concentrations were not different between the 20 and 100% treatments; however, they were 20-25% lower with exposure to 10% SW at 24 and 72 hr. In the teleost gill, regulation of Na+, K+-ATPase (NKA), Na +-K+-2Cl- cotransporter (NKCC1), and the chloride channel, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) are necessary for ion homeostasis. We immunolocalized these proteins to the mitochondrion-rich cell of the gill and determined that acclimation to low salinity does not affect their localization. Also, there was not a downregulation of gill NKA, NKCC1, and CFTR mRNA or protein during acclimation to low salinities. Collectively, these results suggest that down to 20% SW longhorn sculpin are capable of completely regulating ion levels over a 72-hr period, whereas 10% SW exposure results in a significant loss of ions and no change in ion transporter density or localization in the gill. We conclude that longhorn sculpin can tolerate low-salinity environments for days but, because they cannot regulate ion transporter density, they are unable to tolerate low salinity for longer periods or enter freshwater (FW). The genus Myoxocephalus has three FW species, making this group an excellent model to test evolutionary and physiological mechanisms that allow teleosts to invade new low salinities successfully. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hyndman KA; Evans DH
  • Start Page

  • 45
  • End Page

  • 56
  • Volume

  • 311
  • Issue

  • 1