Michael A. Sackville, Ryan B. Shartau, Christian Damsgaard, Malthe Hvas, Le My Phuong, Tobias Wang, Mark Bayley, Do Thi Thanh Huong, Nguyen Thanh Phuong, and Colin J. Brauner

Preferentially regulating intracellular pH (pHi) confers exceptional CO2 tolerance on fish, but is often associated with reductions in extracellular pH (pHe) compensation. It is unknown whether these reductions are due to intrinsically lower capacities for pHe compensation, hypercarbia-induced reductions in water pH or other factors. To test how water pH affects capacities and strategies for pH compensation, we exposed the CO2-tolerant fish Pangasianodon hypophthalmus to 3 kPa PCO2 for 20 h at an ecologically relevant water pH of 4.5 or 5.8. Brain, heart and liver pHi was preferentially regulated in both treatments. However, blood pHe compensation was severely reduced at water pH 4.5 but not 5.8. This suggests that low water pH limits acute pHe but not pHi compensation in fishes preferentially regulating pHi. Hypercarbia-induced reductions in water pH might therefore underlie the unexplained reductions to pHe compensation in fishes preferentially regulating pHi, and may increase selection for preferential pHi regulation.

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