Sexual and seasonal variations in osmoregulation and ionoregulation in the estuarine crab Chasmagnathus granulatus (Crustacea, Decapoda)

Novo, Magda Suzana; Miranda, Rosana Barroso; Bianchini, Adalto


The estuarine crab Chasmagnathus granulatus (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura) inhabits salt marshes along the South Atlantic coast from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to Patagonia (Argentina). In the present study, salinity tolerance (0–45x; 16–1325 mOsm/kg H2O) and hemolymph osmotic and ionic (Na+, Cl_, and K+) regulation in both female and male C. granulatus were analyzed in summer and winter. Results showed that both female and male C. granulatus are euryhaline. Mortality was only observed in extremely low salinity (0x; 16 mOsm/kg H2O) for both sexes. For females, the LT50 at 0x salinity was similar in summer (20.1 h) and winter (17.4 h). Males were more tolerant to salinity than females in both seasons, and mortality was observed only in summer (LT50 = 50.9 h). Results from freshly collected crabs or long-term (16-day) osmotic and ionic regulation experiments in the laboratory showed that male C. granulatus is a better hyper-osmoregulator than female in summer and winter. However, a hypo-osmoregulatory ability was only observed in females experimentally subjected to salinity 40x (1176F11 mOsm/kg H2O) in both seasons. In both sexes, hyper-osmotic regulation was achieved by hyper-regulating hemolymph Na+, Cl_, and K+ concentration. In females, hypo-osmotic regulation was achieved by hypo-regulating hemolymph Na+ and Cl_ concentration. Long-term (16-day) osmotic and ionic regulations in different salinities were similar in males or females collected and tested in summer and winter. Despite this lack of a seasonal effect on hemolymph osmoregulatory and ionoregulatory patterns in males or females, a marked seasonal difference in the dynamics of these processes was observed for both sexes. In the first 2 days after hypo-osmotic shock (20xY5x; 636Y185 mOsm/kg H2O), variations in female osmolality and ion (Na+ and Cl_) concentration were larger and faster in winter than in summer, while in males the opposite was observed. Furthermore, a seasonal effect on the crab response to hyper-osmotic shock (20xY40x; 636Y1176 mOsm/kg H2O) was only observed in males. A new osmolality and ion (Na+ and Cl_) concentration steady state was faster achieved in winter than in summer. Regarding sexual differences, females showed a better capacity to hypo-regulate the hemolymph osmolality and Na+ concentration than males, even after a sudden increase in salinity (hyper-osmotic shock) in both seasons. On the other hand, males showed a better capacity to hyper-regulate the hemolymph osmolality and Na+ concentration than females, even after a sudden decrease in salinity (hypo-osmotic shock), especially in winter. Taken together, results reported in the present study suggest the need to consider both sex and collection season as important factors in future osmotic and ionic regulation studies in estuarine crabs.

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