Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) show high tolerance to acute ammonia exposure but lose metabolic scope during prolonged exposure at low concentration

Stephen Gyamfi, Regina Esi Edziyie, Kwasi Adu Obirikorang, Daniel Adjei-Boateng, Peter Vilhelm Skov

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Abstract

Ammonia is a respiratory gas that is produced during the process of protein deamination. In the unionised form (NH3), it readily crosses biological membranes and is highly toxic to fish. In the present study we examined the effects of unionized ammonia (UIA), on the resting oxygen consumption (MO2), ventilation frequency (fV), heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Fish were either exposed to progressively increasing UIA concentrations, up to 97 µM over a 5 h period, or to a constant UIA level of 7 µM over a 24 h period. For both treatment groups resting MO2, HR and fV were recorded as physiological variables. Relative to the control group, the fish groups exposed to the incremental UIA levels did not exhibit significant changes in their MO2, HR and fV at UIA concentrations of 4, 10, 35, or 61 µM compared to control fish. Exposure to 97 µM UIA, however, elicited abrupt and significant downregulations (p < 0.05) in all three responses, as MO2, HR and fv decreased by 25, 54 and 76 % respectively, compared to control measurements. Heart rate became increasingly irregular with increasing UIA concentrations, and heart rate variability was significantly increased at 61 and 97 µM UIA. Prolonged exposure elicited significant changes at exposure 7 µM UIA. Standard (SMR) and maximum metabolic rate (MMR) were significantly reduced, as was the corresponding fV and HR. It is evident from this study that Nile tilapia is tolerant to short term exposure to UIA up to 61 µM but experience a significant metabolic change under conditions of prolonged UIA exposures even at low concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Volume271
Number of pages106,932
ISSN0166-445X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Nile tilapia
  • Ammonia
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Heart rate
  • Gill ventilation
  • Heart rate variability

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