Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award

May 1987


There has been heightened interest in the biology of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) because of increased pollution in their native spawning grounds and because of their extensive use in landlocked sport fisheries. Their euryhalinity makes them an excellent species for osmoregulation studies. The objective of this research was to study the rate of adaptation of striped bass gills to sea water (3% salt) after direct transfer from freshwater using biochemical (ion transport enzyme levels), physiological (chloride efflux), and ultrastructural methods. Striped bass have specialized osmoregulatory cells located on the interlamellar and afferent surfaces of their gill filaments as shown by light microscopy (LM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). SEM studies show that apical pit (opening of one or more chloride cells) morphology changes during sea water adaptation, and the number of apical pits increases by 32.5% after two weeks in sea water. Chloride cell size and number, extent of basolateral tubular system, and number of mitochondria per chloride cell appear to increase upon adaptation to sea water. Sodium-potassium adenosine triphosphatase (Na,K-ATPase) activity is maximal on day 3 after transfer to sea water. Studies suggest that cortisol may act as a hormonal mediator for long term adaptation to sea water. The general morphology of both freshwater and sea water adapted fish gills were studied. Preliminary studies indicate that the osmium-dimethylsulfoxide-osmium method can be used to investigate intracellular structural changes in striped bass gills. Since the chloride cells are associated with the afferent surface of the filament, the blood supply to that area is also of great interest in osmoregulation studies. Studies of the gill vasculature using corrosion casting (i.e. filling blood vessels with plastic resins) and SEM indicate that the blood vessel distribution in the striped bass gill is similar to that of other euryhaline species with arterio-arterial, arterio-venous, and nutritive pathways. Blood flow may be controlled at a variety of places by sphincters, shunts and cellular contraction. Correlation of these biochemical, physiological and anatomical measurements will aid in the understanding of the process of adaptation to sea water. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access