A unique mode of tissue oxygenation and the adaptive radiation of teleost fishes
Journal of Experimental Biology
Teleost fishes constitute 95% of extant aquatic vertebrates, and we suggest that this is related in part to their unique mode of tissue oxygenation. We propose the following sequence of events in the evolution of their oxygen delivery system. First, loss of plasmaaccessible carbonic anhydrase (CA) in the gill and venous circulations slowed the Jacobs-Stewart cycle and the transfer of acid between the plasma and the red blood cells (RBCs). This ameliorated the effects of a generalised acidosis
... eralised acidosis (associated with an increased capacity for burst swimming) on haemoglobin (Hb)-O 2 binding. Because RBC pH was uncoupled from plasma pH, the importance of Hb as a buffer was reduced. The decrease in buffering was mediated by a reduction in the number of histidine residues on the Hb molecule and resulted in enhanced coupling of O 2 and CO 2 transfer through the RBCs. In the absence of plasma CA, nearly all plasma bicarbonate ultimately dehydrated to CO 2 occurred via the RBCs, and chloride/bicarbonate exchange was the rate-limiting step in CO 2 excretion. This pattern of CO 2 excretion across the gills resulted in disequilibrium states for CO 2 hydration/dehydration reactions and thus elevated arterial and venous plasma bicarbonate levels. Plasma-accessible CA embedded in arterial endothelia was retained, which eliminated the localized bicarbonate disequilibrium forming CO 2 that then moved into the RBCs. Consequently, RBC pH decreased which, in conjunction with pH-sensitive Bohr/Root Hbs, elevated arterial oxygen tensions and thus enhanced tissue oxygenation. Counter-current arrangement of capillaries (retia) at the eye and later the swim bladder evolved along with the gas gland at the swim bladder. Both arrangements enhanced and magnified CO 2 and acid production and, therefore, oxygen secretion to those specialised tissues. The evolution of β-adrenergically stimulated RBC Na + /H + exchange protected gill O 2 uptake during stress and further augmented plasma disequilibrium states for CO 2 hydration/dehydration. Finally, RBC organophosphates (e.g. NTP) could be reduced during hypoxia to further increase Hb-O 2 affinity without compromising tissue O 2 delivery because high-affinity Hbs could still adequately deliver O 2 to the tissues via Bohr/Root shifts. We suggest that the evolution of this unique mode of tissue O 2 transfer evolved in the Triassic/Jurassic Period, when O 2 levels were low, ultimately giving rise to the most extensive adaptive radiation of extant vertebrates, the teleost fishes. . Effects of anaerobic exercise accompanying catch-and-release fishing on blood-oxygen affinity of the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus, Nardo). . Oxygen transport and cardiovascular responses in skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) exposed to acute hypoxia.