Yet another way run off into streams from industry and agriculture is polluting and dooming another animal -the young fresh water Atlantic salmon. The effects of aluminum pollution on young freshwater salmon can be seen in these black and white photos above-the gills on the right show how encrusted the gills become.
Why is this important?
Salmon’s ion exchange exchange mechanism begins in the gills. The exchange of the Na+-K+-ATPase in Atlantic salmon smolts (young salmon) and the changes in the alpha -mRNA and alpha -protein levels begin in the gills. Thus the salmon’s breathing and energy systems begin in the gills.
Canadian medical veterinarian Erlend Haugarvoll and his colleagues discovered in salmon gill a tissue extremely rich in immune cells. Salmon gills have extremely thin mucous membranes, and they absorb oxygen from the water while keeping out potentially damaging microbes. The fish are therefore dependent on good disease resistance in this organ.
Some fish immune cells contain the pigment melanin, which is the same substance that darkens the skin of people and animals. These cells have been called melanomacrophages and it has been assumed they play a central role in the defense of fish against microbes As a young salmon begins to swim from upriver to downstream when it is mature enough to return to the ocean the physiology of this fish changes to be able to breathe in salt water instead of fresh water to get the vital oxygen and metabolites needed to power its energy reserves and its metabolism. Without clean healthy gills the animal is doomed.
Secretive Immune System Of Salmon ScienceDaily February 2, 2009. sciencedaily.com
In vivo biochemical changes in liver and gill of Clarias batrachus during cypermethrin exposure and following cessation of exposure – Ghousia Begum Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology Volume 82, Issue 3, July 2005, Pages 185-196
as cited in http://www.sciencedirect.com/science
Calcitonin: Its hormonal action on the gill – G Milhaud PNAS pnas.org/pdf
Image 1. Northeast Fisheries Science Center nefsc.noaa.gov