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In this study, Na(+) uptake and acid-base balance in the euryhaline pupfish Cyprinodon variegatus variegatus were characterized when fish were exposed to pH 4.5 freshwater (7mM Na(+)). Similar to the related cyprinodont, Fundulus heteroclitus, Na(+) uptake was significantly inhibited when exposed to low pH water. However, it initially appeared that C. v. variegatus increased apparent net acid excretion at low pH relative to circumneutral pH. This result is opposite to previous observations for F. heteroclitus under similar conditions where fish were observed to switch from apparent net H(+) excretion at circumneutral pH to apparent net H(+) uptake at low pH. Further investigation revealed disparate observations between these studies were the result of using double endpoint titrations to measure titratable alkalinity fluxes in the current study, while the earlier study utilized single endpoint titrations to measure these fluxes (i.e.,. Cyprinodon acid-base transport is qualitatively similar to Fundulus when characterized using single endpoint titrations). This led to a comparative investigation of these two methods. We hypothesized that either the single endpoint methodology was being influenced by a change in the buffer capacity of the water (e.g., mucus being released by the fish) at low pH, or the double endpoint methodology was not properly accounting for ammonia flux by the fish. A series of follow-up experiments indicated that buffer capacity of the water did not change significantly, that excretion of protein (a surrogate for mucus) was actually reduced at low pH, and that the double endpoint methodology does not properly account for NH(3) excretion by fish under low pH conditions. As a result, it overestimates net H(+) excretion during low pH exposure. After applying the maximum possible correction for this error (i.e., assuming that all ammonia is excreted as NH(3)), the double endpoint methodology indicates that net H(+) transport was reduced to effectively zero in both species at pH 4.5. However, significant differences between the double endpoint (no net H(+) transport at low pH) and single endpoint titrations (net H(+) uptake at low pH) remain to be explained. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Kevin V Brix, Chris M Wood, Martin Grosell. Measuring titratable alkalinity by single versus double endpoint titration: An evaluation in two cyprinodont species and implications for characterizing net H+ flux in aquatic organisms. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology. 2013 Jan;164(1):221-8

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PMID: 23000354

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