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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Developmental alterations and osmoregulatory physiology of a larval anuran under osmotic stress.

Water salinity represents an environmental stress for many species. Amphibians are particularly sensitive because they are generally poor osmoregulators, and most species are completely absent from brackish and saline environments. We experimentally examined the effect of different salinity levels on larvae of the toad Bufo calamita L., a species that occupies freshwater ponds but can also breed in brackish ponds. Two independent experiments are reported here. In both experiments, tadpoles under saline conditions (ranging between 85 and 200 mOsm) showed a slower developmental rate, metamorphosing between 4 and 9 d later than the controls. Bufo calamita tadpoles reared in brackish water increased their osmolality and solute concentration (mainly sodium and chloride), decreased their levels of glucose, and decreased the total protein content, all measured from whole-animal extracts. Although most larval anurans are strictly ammoniotelic until the completion of metamorphosis, a few species exposed to dehydrating environments have evolved the ability to use urea as an osmolyte during the larval phase. The data presented here reveal that although B. calamita seems to be yet another exception to the rule of larval strict ammoniotelism, the tadpoles are not able to use urea as an osmolyte and rely on sodium-chloride balance instead. Preliminary immunoassays of thyroid hormone content suggest a possible decrease in hormone levels induced in water salinity conditions that correlate with a decreased developmental rate.[1]


  1. Developmental alterations and osmoregulatory physiology of a larval anuran under osmotic stress. Gomez-Mestre, I., Tejedo, M., Ramayo, E., Estepa, J. Physiol. Biochem. Zool. (2004) [Pubmed]
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