Enhanced oxygen unloading in two marine percomorph teleosts

Jacelyn J. Shu, Rachael M. Heuer, Kelly D. Hannan, John D. Stieglitz, Daniel D. Benetti, Jodie L. Rummer, Martin Grosell, Colin J. Brauner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Teleost fishes are diverse and successful, comprising almost half of all extant vertebrate species. It has been suggested that their success as a group is related, in part, to their unique O2 transport system, which includes pH-sensitive hemoglobin, a red blood cell β-adrenergic Na+/H+ exchanger (RBC β-NHE) that protects red blood cell pH, and plasma accessible carbonic anhydrase which is absent at the gills but present in some tissues, that short-circuits the β-NHE to enhance O2 unloading during periods of stress. However, direct support for this has only been examined in a few species of salmonids. Here, we expand the knowledge of this system to two warm-water, highly active marine percomorph fish, cobia (Rachycentron canadum) and mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus). We show evidence for RBC β-NHE activity in both species, and characterize the Hb-O2 transport system in one of those species, cobia. We found significant RBC swelling following β-adrenergic stimulation in both species, providing evidence for the presence of a rapid, active RBC β-NHE in both cobia and mahi-mahi, with a time-course similar to that of salmonids. We generated oxygen equilibrium curves (OECs) for cobia blood and determined the P50, Hill, and Bohr coefficients, and used these data to model the potential for enhanced O2 unloading. We determined that there was potential for up to a 61% increase in O2 unloading associated with RBC β-NHE short-circuiting, assuming a − 0.2 ∆pHa-v in the blood. Thus, despite phylogenetic and life history differences between cobia and the salmonids, we found few differences between their Hb-O2 transport systems, suggesting conservation of this physiological trait across diverse teleost taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111101
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • B-NHE
  • Blood
  • Carbonic anhydrase
  • Cobia
  • Mahi-mahi
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology


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