Circulatory Oxygen Transport in the Water Flea Daphnia Magna

J Comp Physiol B. 2002 May;172(4):275-85. doi: 10.1007/s00360-002-0250-7. Epub 2002 Mar 27.


To determine the contribution of circulatory convection to tissue oxygen supply in animals of Daphnia magna, heart rate ( f(H)), in-vivo Hb oxygen-saturation ( S(Hb)) and NADH fluorescence intensity ( I(NADH)) as a measure of the tissue oxygenation state were simultaneously measured using digital motion analysis, microabsorption spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy. In addition, the relationship between stroke volume and body size was established. Groups of differently sized animals (small: 1.4-1.6 mm, medium: 2.7-2.9 mm, large: 3.3 mm) with either low (Hb-poor) or high Hb concentration (Hb-rich) in the hemolymph were exposed to a gradual decrease in ambient oxygen partial pressure ( P(O2amb)) between normoxia and anoxia. In all groups, f(H) increased in response to progressive hypoxia. The hypoxic maximum in f(H) was highest in medium-sized Hb-poor animals, whereas perfusion rate increased continuously with increasing body size in Hb-poor and Hb-rich animals. The P(O2amb) at which Hb in the heart region was half-saturated (in-vivo P(50)) was higher in medium-sized (Hb-poor: 3.2 kPa, Hb-rich: 2.0 kPa) than in small (Hb-poor: 2.1 kPa, Hb-rich: 1.5 kPa) and large animals (Hb-poor: 1.9 kPa). The in-vivo P(50) was always lower in Hb-rich than in Hb-poor animals. The I(NADH) indicated an impairment of tissue oxygenation starting at higher critical P(O2amb) with increasing body size and with lower Hb concentration. Model calculations suggest that at the respective critical P(O2amb), circulatory convection delivers less than half of the oxygen demand in Hb-poor animals. In contrast, in Hb-rich animals, the contribution of circulatory convection to tissue oxygen supply at respective critical P(O2amb) was much greater due to the higher concentration of Hb.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Constitution
  • Daphnia / physiology*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemoglobins / physiology*
  • Hemolymph / physiology
  • NAD / analysis
  • Oxygen / physiology*


  • Hemoglobins
  • NAD
  • Oxygen