Episodic acidification resulting in increased acidity and inorganic aluminum (Ali) is known to interfere with the parr-smolt transformation of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and has been implicated as a possible cause of population decline. To determine the extent and mechanism(s) by which short-term acid/Al exposure compromises smolt development, Atlantic salmon smolts were exposed to either control (pH 6.7-6.9) or acid/Al (pH 5.4-6.3, 28-64 ??g l-1 Ali) conditions for 2 and 5 days, and impacts on freshwater (FW) ion regulation, seawater (SW) tolerance, plasma hormone levels and stress response were examined. Gill Al concentrations were elevated in all smolts exposed to acid/Al relative to controls confirming exposure to increased Ali. There was no effect of acid/Al on plasma ion concentrations in FW however, smolts exposed to acid/Al followed by a 24 h SW challenge exhibited greater plasma Cl- levels than controls, indicating reduced SW tolerance. Loss of SW tolerance was accompanied by reductions in gill Na+,K+-ATPase (NKA) activity and Na+,K+,2Cl- (NKCC) cotransporter protein abundance. Acid/Al exposure resulted in decreased plasma insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) and 3,3???,5???-triiodo-l-thyronine (T3) levels, whereas no effect of treatment was seen on plasma cortisol, growth hormone (GH), or thyroxine (T4) levels. Acid/Al exposure resulted in increased hematocrit and plasma glucose levels in FW, but both returned to control levels after 24 h in SW. The results indicate that smolt development and SW tolerance are compromised by short-term exposure to acid/Al in the absence of detectable impacts on FW ion regulation. Loss of SW tolerance during short-term acid/Al exposure likely results from reductions in gill NKA and NKCC, possibly mediated by decreases in plasma IGF-I and T3. ?? 2008 Elsevier Inc.
Additional publication details
Effects of short-term acid and aluminum exposure on the parr-smolt transformation in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Disruption of seawater tolerance and endocrine status