The Gut as an Osmoregulatory Organ: Comparative Aspects and Special References to Fishes

  • R. Kirsch
  • W. Humbert
  • V. Simonneaux
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


When considering the gut as an osmoregulatory organ, it must be kept in mind that the basic function of the gut is to split foodstuffs into simple compounds, small enough to cross cell membranes. The splitting of foodstuffs results in a considerable increase in the number of independent substrate particles in the digestive fluid: more than 100 amino acid molecules for one protein molecule and up to 500,000 monosaccharide molecules for one starch molecule. Splitting occurs in closed systems which appear in animal evolution in the following successive stages: the intracellular food vacuoles in Protozoa, the digestive sac (the enteron) in primitive invertebrates and finally the alimentary canal made up of successive parts allowing for simultaneous feeding and digestion. Moreover, many metabolites need sodium ions to be absorbed by cotransport into the digestive cells. The gut must ensure ion requirements for coupled ion-substrate absorption and also prevent deleterious variations in osmotic pressure. This is made possible either by a strong correlation between hydrolysis and metabolite absorption as is the case in filter feeders with continuous food supply or by osmoregulation by the gut epithelium in the general case of sequential feeding.


Mucous Layer Domestic Fowl Digestive Cell Posterior Intestine Anterior Intestine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Kirsch
  • W. Humbert
  • V. Simonneaux
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Zoologie et d’Embryologie expérimentale, J.E. CNRS 033669Université Louis PasteurStrasbourgFrance

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