Biochemical and physiological adaptations in the estuarine crab Neohelice granulata during salinity acclimation
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Neohelice granulata (Chasmagnathus granulatus) is an intertidal crab species living in salt marshes from estuaries and lagoons along the Atlantic coast of South America. It is a key species in these environments because it is responsible for energy transfer from producers to consumers. In order to deal with the extremely marked environmental salinity changes occurring in salt marshes, N. granulata shows important and interesting structural, biochemical, and physiological adaptations at the gills level. These adaptations characterize this crab as a euryhaline species, tolerating environmental salinities ranging from very diluted media to concentrated seawater. These characteristics had led to its use as an animal model to study estuarine adaptations in crustaceans. Therefore, the present review focuses on the influence of environmental salinity on N. granulata responses at the ecological, organismic and molecular levels. Aspects covered include salinity tolerance, osmo- and ionoregulatory patterns, morphological and structural adaptations at the gills, and mechanisms of ion transport and their regulation at the gills level during environmental salinity acclimation. Finally, this review compiles information on the effects of some environmental pollutants on iono- and osmoregulatory adaptations showed by N. granulata.
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