Effects of ambient ammonia levels on blood ammonia, ammonia excretion and heart and scaphognathite rates of Nephrops norvegicus
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During commercial handling of Nephropsnorvegicus (L.) there are a number of situations when the prawns may be exposed to very high ambient ammonia levels. These experiments evaluated the effects of increased levels of ambient total ammonia (TA = NH3 + NH4 +) on␣blood ammonia, ammonia efflux rates and on the cardio-ventilatory performance of N. norvegicus. When prawns were taken from <1 to 2000 μmol TA l−1 medium, blood TA concentrations increased rapidly for the first 2 h but tended to drop thereafter. Original blood TA levels were restored 6 h after the prawns were transferred back from seawater containing 2000 to <1 μmol TA l−1. Sudden exposure to 500, 1000, 2000 or 4000 μmol TA l−1 medium induced blood TA concentrations to increase respectively to 50, 30, 33 and 36% of external concentrations (normally, internal TA values are much higher than external levels). Immediately after transfer back to seawater with low ammonia concentration ( <1 μmol TA l−1), excretion rates were higher than those of control prawns, and the absolute amounts of TA excreted were considerably higher than those calculated to have accumulated in the haemolymph. Heart rate (HR) and scaphognathite rate (SR) were not altered when prawns were subjected to sudden alterations in ambient ammonia ( <1 to 2000 to <1 μmol TA l−1). When water ammonia concentrations were altered more gradually, both rates increased, but only at 4000 μmol TA l−1. These results show that N. norvegicus is able to remove ammonia from the haemolymph and/or transform ammonia into some other substance when subjected to increased levels of ambient ammonia. Possible mechanisms involved (e.g. active transport across the gills; storage in some other tissue; glutamate synthe sis) are discussed.
KeywordsGlutamate Ammonia Concentration Efflux Rate Ammonia Excretion Water Ammonia
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