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Ontogenetic changes in location and morphology of chloride cells during early life stages of the Nile tilapia

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Ontogenetic changes in the location, size, density and morphology of chloride cells in the Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus adapted to fresh and brackish water are described using Na+/K+‐ATPase immunohistochemistry, light microscopy (LM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM). The pattern of chloride cell distribution changed during development under both treatments, with chloride cell density decreasing significantly from hatch to 7 days post‐hatch, but appearing on the inner opercular area at 3 days post‐hatch and increasing significantly thereafter (P < 0·05). Chloride cells were always denser in fresh‐ than in brackish‐water larvae. In both treatments, chloride cells located on the outer operculum and tail showed a marked increase in size with age, but cells located on the abdominal epithelium of the yolk sac and the inner operculum showed a significant decrease in size (P < 0·05). Chloride cells from brackish‐water adapted larvae from 1 day post‐hatch onwards were always significantly larger (P < 0·05) than those from freshwater‐adapted larvae. SEM revealed structural differences in chloride cell apical morphology according to environmental conditions. There appears to be clearly defined temporal staging of the appearance of adaptive mechanisms that confer an ability to cope with varying environmental conditions during early development.

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.03043.x

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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