The effects of ammonia loading in the terrestrial isopod Porcellio scaber were studied by exposing animals to atmospheres of high PNH3. Isopods show a remarkable tolerance of elevated ambient PNH3, with an LD50 of 89 Pa for a 7-day exposure. However, haemolymph total ammonia concentrations generally remained below 5 mmol l-1 (PNH3=0.37 Pa) over the range of ambient ammonia levels used (6.6­165 Pa). Following a 7-day loading period, whole-animal glutamine (Gln) and glutamate (Glu) levels increased in direct proportion to ambient PNH3, reaching values of 35 µmol g-1 fresh mass for glutamine and 12 µmol g-1 fresh mass for glutamate in 99 Pa PNH3; these correspond to control levels of 7.5 µmol g-1 fresh mass and 5.9 µmol g-1 fresh mass, respectively. Following transfer to ammonia-free chambers, NH3 excretion rates were augmented five- to sixfold relative to non-loaded controls. Ammonia volatilization subsequently declined, approaching control levels after 8­9 days. Levels of Gln and Glu showed a concomitant decline to 13.7 µmol g-1 fresh mass and 9.2 µmol g-1 fresh mass, respectively. The results suggest that these amino acids function in ammonia sequestration and, hence, detoxification. Calculations indicate that mobilization of amino groups by deamination of accumulated Gln and Glu could explain 35 % of the increased ammonia production. Implications of NH3 volatilization for acid­base balance are discussed.

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