Renal glomerular evolution in Antarctic notothenioid fishes

J. T. Eastman, A. L. Devries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Light and electron microscopy were used to document the degree of glomerular development in 10 species of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. When combined with results of previous studies, data revealed that 16 of 20 species inhabiting subzero sea water were aglomerular. One subantarctic and two temperate species were pauciglomerular, and an additional temperate species had a moderate number of glomeruli. Renal corpuscles were variable in number and diameter among the pauciglomerular species, and most had few patent glomerular capillaries. Radiolabelled markers indicated that the glomerular filtration rate was low in the pauciglomerular Notothenia angustata, ranging from 0.005 to 0.124 ml h−1 kg−1 in eight specimens. Arterial perfusion of Microfil demonstrated that arteries supplying aglomerular and pauciglomerular kidneys were confined largely to the periphery of the organ, and glomerular capillaries were absent or few in number. As ancestral notothenioids probably had glomerular kidneys, data from 20–25% of the fauna suggest that there has been an evolutionary loss of glomeruli in many species. The pattern of glomerular reduction is consistent with the hypothesis that the selective advantage of aglomerularism is in the urinary conservation of small molecular weight antifreeze glycopeptide compounds that are vital to survival in sub‐zero Antarctic waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-662
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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