A Contribution of Acid-base Regulation to Metabolic Depression in Marine Ectotherms

  • Hans Otto Pörtner
  • Christian Bock
Conference paper


Adaptation to permanent cold in marine ectotherms has been discussed to be associated with mitochondrial proliferation as well as a more or less non-compensated decrease in metabolic rate. This process must involve the respective tradeoffs in energy consuming processes. Only recently it was demonstrated that acid-base regulation is associated with a considerable cost. Metabolic depression is accompanied by a decrease in the rate of cellular net proton excretion leading to a decrease in the setpoint of intracellular pH regulation. Also a shift is observed to more economic mechanisms of proton equivalent ion exchange. In this chapter the physiological relevance of acid-base parameters in various thermal environments is reevaluated based on these findings. During temperature change a wide range of tissues in ectothermal species displays pH changes in accordance with an alphastat mode of acid-base regulation. Exeptions from this pattern described in the literature are discussed in the light of cold induced mitochondrial proliferation, of metabolic depression during (seasonal) cold and of differences between the various methods of pHj analysis applied. In animals adapted to various temperature regimes it is possible to distinguish between changes in pHi elicited by physico-chemical buffering and those caused by a readjustment of the setpoints of proton equivalent ion exchange. The thermal flexibility and higher metabolic rate of eurythermal animals is reflected in the predominant use of more costly active mechanisms of pHi regulation during temperature induced pHi changes, whereas acid-base regulation appears to be less flexible and less costly in cold stenotherms and displays largely passive temperature dependent pHi changes.


Metabolic Depression Extracellular Acidosis Mitochondrial Proliferation Anterior Byssus Retractor Muscle Trout Erythrocyte 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Otto Pörtner
    • 1
  • Christian Bock
    • 1
  1. 1.Ökophysiologie und ÖkotoxikologieAlfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungBremerhavenGermany

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