Cod (Gadus morhua) cardiorespiratory physiology and hypoxia tolerance following acclimation to low-oxygen conditions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous research has shown that hypoxia-acclimated Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) have significantly reduced cardiac function but can consume more oxygen for a given cardiac output (Q). However, it is not known (1) which physiological changes permit a greater "oxygen pulse" (oxygen consumed per mL of blood pumped) in hypoxia-acclimated individuals or (2) whether chronic exposure to low-oxygen conditions improves the hypoxia tolerance of cod. Thus, we exposed normoxia- and hypoxia-acclimated (> 6 wk at a water oxygen partial pressure [P(w)O(2)] ~8-9 kPa) cod to a graded normoxia challenge until loss of equilibrium occurred while recording the following cardiorespiratory variables: oxygen consumption (MO(2)), ventilatory rate, cardiac function (Q, heart rate f(H), and stroke volume S(V)), ventral aortic blood pressure (P(VA)), venous oxygen partial pressure (P(v)O(2)) and oxygen content (C(v)O(2)), plasma catecholamines, and blood hemoglobin ([Hb]) and hematocrit (Hct). In addition, we performed in vitro hemoglobin oxygen binding curves to examine whether hypoxia acclimation influences hemoglobin functional properties. Numerous physiological adjustments occurred in vivo during the > 6 wk of hypoxia acclimation: that is, increased f(H), decreased S(V) and Q, elevated [Hb], enhanced tissue oxygen extraction (by 10% at a P(w)O(2) of 20 kPa), and a more robust stress response as evidenced by circulating catecholamine levels that were two to eight times higher when fish were acutely exposed to severe hypoxia. In contrast, chronic hypoxia had no significant effect on the affinity of hemoglobin for oxygen, on in vitro hemoglobin oxygen carrying capacity, or on the cod's hypoxia tolerance (H(crit); the P(w)O(2) at which the fish lost equilibrium, which was 4.3 0.2 and 4.8 0.3 kPa in normoxia- and hypoxia-acclimated fish, respectively). These data suggest that while chronic hypoxia results in numerous physiological adjustments, these changes do not improve the cod's capacity to tolerate low-oxygen conditions.

published proceedings

  • Physiol Biochem Zool

author list (cited authors)

  • Petersen, L. H., & Gamperl, A. K.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Petersen, LH||Gamperl, A Kurt

publication date

  • January 2011