The importance of perivitelline fluid convection to oxygen uptake of Pseudophryne bibronii eggs

Physiol Biochem Zool. May-Jun 2011;84(3):299-305. doi: 10.1086/659650.


The ciliated epithelium of amphibian embryos produces a current within the perivitelline fluid of the egg that is important in the convective transfer of oxygen to the embryo's surface. The effects of convection on oxygen uptake and the immediate oxygen environment of the embryo were investigated in Pseudophryne bibronii. Gelatin was injected into the eggs, setting the perivitelline fluid and preventing convective flow. Oxygen consumption rate (M(.)o₂) and the oxygen partial pressure (Po₂) of the perivitelline fluid were measured in eggs with and without this treatment. M(.)o₂ decreased in eggs without convection at Gosner stages 17-19 under normoxia. The lack of convection also shifted embryos from regulators to conformers as environmental Po₂ decreased. A strong Po₂ gradient formed within the eggs when convection was absent, demonstrating that the loss of convection is equivalent to decreasing the inner radius of the capsule, an important factor in gas exchange, by 25%. M(.)o₂ also declined in stage 26-27 embryos without cilia-driven convection, although not to the extent of younger stages, because of muscular movements and a greater skin surface area in direct contact with the inner capsule wall. This study demonstrates the importance of convective flow within the perivitelline fluid to gas exchange. Convection is especially important in the middle of embryonic development, when the perivitelline space has formed, creating a barrier to gas exchange, but the embryos have yet to develop muscular movements or have a large surface area exposed directly to the jelly capsule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / embryology*
  • Anura / metabolism*
  • Convection
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Partial Pressure


  • Oxygen