Neal J. Dawson, Caroline Millet, Colin Selman, and Neil B. Metcalfe
Physiological investigations of fish gills have traditionally been centered on the two principal functions of the gills, gas exchange and ion regulation. Mitochondrion-rich cells (MRCs) are primarily found within the gill filaments of fish, and are thought to proliferate in order to increase the ionoregulatory capacity of the gill in response to environmentally-induced osmotic challenges. However, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the metabolic function of mitochondria within fish gills. Here we describe and validate a simple protocol for the permeabilization of fish gills and subsequent measurement of mitochondrial respiration rates in vitro. Our protocol requires only small tissue samples (8 mg), it exploits the natural structure of fish gills, does not require mechanical separation of the gill tissue (so is relatively quick to perform), and yields accurate and highly reproducible measurements of respiration rates. It offers great potential for the study of mitochondrial function in gills over a wide range of fish sizes and species.