Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Special skin keeps fish species alive on land

Date:
November 10, 2010
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
A new study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land. It's all in the skin.

A new study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land. It's all in the skin.

Mangrove killifish are small fish -- only about an inch or two long -- that live in temporary pools in the coastal mangrove forests of Central and South America and Florida. During dry seasons when their pools disappear, the fish hole up in leaf litter or hollow logs. As long as they stay moist, they can survive for extended periods out of water by breathing air through their skin. But oxygen isn't the only thing a fish out of water needs to worry about, according to Professor Patricia Wright, a biologist from the University of Guelph, Ontario, who has studied these fish for years.

"All cells in the body need the right combination of ions and water for an animal to stay alive," Wright explains. "Normally, the gills are responsible for these processes in fish. We knew that in mangrove killifish the gills are likely useless on land, so how these fish maintain ion balance out of water was a mystery."

Wright's latest research, published in the November/December 2010 issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, shows that the skin of the mangrove killifish picks up the slack for the gills.

Through a series of laboratory experiments, Wright and her team found special cells called ionocytes clustered on the skin of the fish. Ionocytes, normally found on the gills of other fish, are the cells responsible for maintaining the right balance of water and salt in a fish's cells.

"We found the mangrove killifish have roughly as many ionocytes on their skin as on their gills," Wright said. Other fish species have skin ionocytes in larval stages of development, but usually these cells disappear in the skin as the fish develops.

To show that these skin ionocytes were doing the job, the researchers took some mangrove killifish out of water for a period of 9 days. During that time, the fish were left on a surface moist with water containing a radioactive isotope. The researchers found that the isotope eventually turned up in the fish's body.

"It's very clear they're exchanging ions through the skin," Wright said.

The skin of the mangrove killifish is also equipped to help the fish deal with varying salinity, the research found. When out-of-water fish were placed on a surface moist with salt water, the skin ionocytes got bigger, indicating that they're working overtime to keep the right salt balance. When those fish were placed back in water, the skin ionocytes returned to normal size.

It's adaptations like this, Wright says, that make this fish special -- even among amphibious fish. Lungfish, for example, need to alter their physiological state to live out of water. But with its special skin, mangrove killifish can maintain all of their normal physiological processes at nearly the same level as being in water -- and they can do it for over 60 days.

"They really are very interesting little animals," Wright said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Danielle M. LeBlanc, Chris M. Wood, Douglas S. Fudge, Patricia A. Wright. A Fish Out of Water: Gill and Skin Remodeling Promotes Osmo- and Ionoregulation in the Mangrove KillifishKryptolebias marmoratus. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 2010; 000 DOI: 10.1086/656307

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Special skin keeps fish species alive on land." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108140915.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2010, November 10). Special skin keeps fish species alive on land. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108140915.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Special skin keeps fish species alive on land." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108140915.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins