Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1101–1114 | Cite as

Structural differentiation of apical openings in active mitochondria-rich cells during early life stages of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus L.) as a response to osmotic challenge

  • S. Fridman
  • K. J. Rana
  • J. E. Bron


This study examines the structural differentiation of the apical crypts of mitochondria-rich cells (MRCs) in Nile tilapia as a response to osmotic challenge. Larvae were transferred from freshwater at 3 days post-hatch to 12.5 and 20 ppt and were sampled at 24- and 48-h post-transfer. Scanning electron microscopy allowed quantification of MRCs, based on apical crypt appearance and surface area, resulting in a morphological classification of ‘sub-types’, that is, Type I or absorptive (surface area range 5.2–19.6 μm2), Type II or active absorptive form (surface area range 1.1–15.7 μm2), Type III or weakly functioning form (surface area range 0.08–4.6 μm2) and Type IV or active secreting form (surface area range 4.1–11.7 μm2). Mucus cell crypts were discriminated from those of MRCs based on the presence of globular extensions and quantified. Density and frequency of MRCs and mucus cells varied significantly according to the experimental salinity and time post-transfer; in freshwater-adapted larvae, all types were present except Type IV but, following transfer to elevated salinities, Type I and Type II disappeared and appeared to be replaced by Type IV crypts. Type III crypt density remained constant following transfer. Transmission electron microscopy with immunogold labelling, using a novel pre-fixation technique with anti-Na+/K+-ATPase, allowed complementary ultrastructural visualisation of specific localisation of the antibodies on active MRCs, permitting a review of MRC apical morphology and related Na+/K+-ATPase binding sites.


Mitochondria-rich cells Osmoregulation Cellular differentiation Nile tilapia Ontogeny 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Linton Brown for his excellent assistance with the electron microscopy. The monoclonal antibody, developed by D. M. Fambrough, was obtained from the Development Studies Hybridoma bank developed under the auspices of the NICHD and maintained by The University of Iowa, Department of Biology, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of AquacultureUniversity of StirlingStirlingScotland, UK
  2. 2.French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion UniversityBeershebaIsrael
  3. 3.Aquaculture DivisionUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa

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