Extracellular acid-base balance in decapod crustaceans is influenced by water salinity, although the nature of this relationship is unclear. In euryhaline crabs, a decrease in salinity results in a metabolic alkalosis in the haemolymph and an increase in salinity results in a metabolic acidosis. Alterations in acid-base status by external changes in salinity are thought to be secondary to the adjustments required for ionic and osmotic regulation. In the present study, acid-base adjustments in the haemolymph of Eriocheir sinensis after transfer to 30 % sea water accompanied alterations in muscle pH and [HCO(3)(−)], as an initial acidosis coincided with an alkalosis in the leg muscle. By 48 h transfer, haemolymph pH increased as muscle pH and HCO(3)(−) declined. Haemolymph [Cl(−)] decreased significantly 3 h after transfer to a new steady state but haemolymph [Na(+)] and muscle [Na(+)] and [Cl(−)] remained unchanged. Muscle free amino acid concentration increased twofold 6 h after transfer, followed by a 2.5-fold increase in the haemolymph after 24 h. In contrast, 30 % sea water had no effect on haemolymph acid-base adjustments in the osmoconforming crab, Necora puber, which lacks ion and osmo-regulatory mechansims. Collectively these observations support the view that salinity-induced alterations in acid-base status are caused by adjustments consistent with cell volume regulation.

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