Sensing and transfer of respiratory gases at the fish gill

J Exp Zool. 2002 Aug 1;293(3):249-63. doi: 10.1002/jez.10129.


The gill is both a site of gas transfer and an important location of chemoreception or gas sensing in fish. While often considered separately, these two processes are clearly intricately related because the gases that are transferred between the ventilatory water and blood at the gill are simultaneously sensed by chemoreceptors on, and within, the gill. Modulation of chemoreceptor discharge in response to changes in O(2) and CO(2) levels, in turn, is believed to initiate a series of coordinated cardiorespiratory reflexes aimed at optimising branchial gas transfer. The past decade has yielded numerous advances in terms of our understanding of gas transfer and gas sensing at the fish gill, particularly concerning the transfer and sensing of carbon dioxide. In addition, recent research has moved from striving to construct a single model that covers all fish species, to recognition of the considerable inter-specific variation that exists with respect to the mechanics of gas transfer and the cardiorespiratory responses of fish to changes in O(2) and CO(2) levels. The following review attempts to integrate gas transfer and gas sensing at the fish gill by exploring recent advances in these areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Branchial Region / physiology
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Gases / pharmacokinetics
  • Gills / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen / pharmacokinetics*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*


  • Gases
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen