Erythrocytes from green turtle hatchlings contain a single embryonic component, unlike those from other cleidoic eggs, in which adult hemoglobin (Hb) constitutes a significant fraction of total Hb at hatching. The functional properties of the isolated and purified green turtle hatchling Hb that distinguish it from adult Hb are a high affinity for oxygen and marked sensitivity to organic phosphate modulators. Hatchling erythrocytes also contain higher concentrations of ATP and 2,3-diphosphoglyceric acid, but their oxygen affinity is indistinguishable from that of adult erythrocytes. Hatchling erythrocyte mean cell volume is approximately half of the adult value, but hematocrit, blood hemoglobin concentration and blood viscosity of hatchlings and adults are similar. Oxygen-carrying capacity in green turtles, unlike that of other diving vertebrates, corresponds with a theoretically derived optimum. The possibility of allosteric control of Hb oxygen-binding in hatchlings may relate not to the challenge of exercise during the dispersal phase but to conditions in the late embryo in the nest.

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