Impacts of low salinity exposure and antibiotic application on gut transport activity in the Pacific spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias suckleyi
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The role of the marine elasmobranch gastrointestinal tract in nitrogen-recycling and osmotic homeostasis has become increasingly apparent, with the gut microbial community likely playing a significant role converting urea, an important osmolyte in elasmobranchs, into ammonia. The Pacific spiny dogfish can experience and tolerate reduced environmental salinities, yet how this environmental challenge may affect the microbiome, and consequently nitrogen transport across the gut, is as of yet unknown. In the present study, excised gut sac preparations were made from dogfish acclimated to the following: full-strength seawater (C), low salinity for 7 days (LS), and after acute transfer of LS-acclimated fish to full-strength SW for 6 h (AT). Significantly reduced microbial derived urease activity was observed in the mucosal saline of gut sac preparations from the LS (by 81%) and AT (by 89%) treatments relative to the C treatment. Microbial derived cellulase activity from mucosal saline samples tended to follow similar patterns. To further ensure an effective decrease in the spiral valve microbial population, an antibiotic cocktail was applied to the mucosal saline used for in vitro measurements of ion, water, and nitrogen flux in these gut sac preparations. This caused a further 57-61% decrease in the mucosal saline urease activity of the C and LS treatments. Overall, we observed relatively little flux across the stomach for all measured parameters aside from water movement, which switched from a net efflux in control fish to a net influx in acutely transferred fish, indicative of drinking. While no significant differences were observed in terms of nitrogen flux (urea or ammonia), we tended to see the accumulation of ammonia in the spiral valve lumen and a switch from efflux to influx of urea in control versus acutely transferred fish. The increased ammonia production likely occurs as a result of heightened metabolism in a challenging environment, while the retention and acquisition of urea is suggestive of nitrogen scavenging under nitrogen-limiting conditions.
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