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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Increased reliance on coronary perfusion for cardiorespiratory performance in seawater-acclimated rainbow trout

Wallbom, Nicklas; Zena, Lucas A.; McArley, Tristan J.; Ekstrom, Andreas; Axelsson, Michael; Grans, Albin; Sandblom, Erik; Morgenroth, Daniel


Salmonid ventricles are composed of spongy and compact myocardium, the latter being perfused via a coronary circulation. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) acclimated to sea water have higher proportions of compact myocardium and display stroke volume-mediated elevations in resting cardiac output relative to freshwater-acclimated trout, probably to meet the higher metabolic needs of osmoregulatory functions. Here, we tested the hypothesis that cardiorespiratory performance of rainbow trout in sea water is more dependent on coronary perfusion by assessing the effects of coronary ligation on cardiorespiratory function in resting and exhaustively exercised trout acclimated to fresh water or sea water. While ligation only had minor effects on resting cardiorespiratory function across salinities, cardiac function after chasing to exhaustion was impaired, presumably as a consequence of atrioventricular block. Ligation reduced maximum O2 consumption rate by 33% and 17% in fish acclimated to sea water and fresh water, respectively, which caused corresponding 41% and 17% reductions in aerobic scope. This was partly explained by different effects on cardiac performance, as maximum stroke volume was only significantly impaired by ligation in sea water, resulting in 38% lower maximum cardiac output in seawater compared with 28% in fresh water. The more pronounced effect on respiratory performance in sea water was presumably also explained by lower blood O2 carrying capacity, with ligated seawater-acclimated trout having 16% and 17% lower haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit, respectively, relative to ligated freshwater trout. In conclusion, we show that the coronary circulation allows seawater-acclimated trout to maintain aerobic scope at a level comparable to that in fresh water.


Physiology; Exercise; Coronary circulation; Salinity

Published in

Journal of Experimental Biology
2023, Volume: 226, number: 4, article number: jeb244733