Section 58
Chapter 57,407

Chronic hypercapnic incubation increases relative organ growth and reduces blood pressure of embryonic American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Eme, J.; Crossley, D.A.

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A Molecular and Integrative Physiology 182: 53-57


ISSN/ISBN: 1531-4332
PMID: 25499241
DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.12.009
Accession: 057406074

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Reptilian nests can experience natural hypoxic and hypercapnic conditions. We incubated alligator eggs at a female-only producing temperature (30°C) in three conditions: 21% O2/0.04% CO2, 21% O2/3.5% CO2 and 21% O2/7% CO2. Alligator embryos chronically incubated in high CO2 were markedly hypotensive (blood pressure reduced by 46%) and had relatively (mass-specific) enlarged hearts (dry mass increased by 20%), lungs (dry mass increased by 17%), and kidneys (dry mass increased by 14%). This study is the first to chronically incubate reptilian eggs in hypercapnia and suggests that high CO2 alters the cardiovascular phenotype of alligator embryos (low blood pressure, relatively enlarged hearts), as well as the relative size of the organs primarily responsible for acid base balance, lungs and kidneys. The lungs and kidneys are largely non-functional during embryonic development, and the embryonic phenotype of increased relative mass may be a predictive-adaptation to metabolic or respiratory acidosis, such as during exercise or high respiratory CO2. This study demonstrates that phenotypic plasticity of alligator embryos incubated in high CO2 may result in either preferential organ growth, or maintenance of organ growth with reduced somatic growth.

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