Anurans occupy a wide variety of habitats of diverse salinities, and their osmoregulatory ability is strongly regulated by hormones. In this study, we compared the adaptability and hormonal responses to osmotic stress between two kajika frogs, Buergeria japonica (B.j.) and B. buergeri, (B.b.), which inhabit coastal brackish waters (BW) in the Ryukyu Islands and freshwater (FW) in the Honshu, respectively. Both hematocrit and plasma Na+ concentration were significantly higher in B.j. than in B.b. when both were kept in FW. After transfer to one-third seawater (simulating the natural BW environment), which is slightly hypertonic to their body fluids, their body mass decreased and plasma Na concentration increased significantly in both species. After transfer, plasma Na+ concentration increased significantly in both species. We examined the gene expression of two major osmoregulatory hormones, arginine vasotocin (AVT) and atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP), after partial cloning of their cDNAs. ANP mRNA levels were more than 10-fold higher in B.j. than in B.b. in FW, but no significant difference was observed for AVT mRNA levels due to high variability, although the mean value of B.j. was twice that of B.b. Both AVT and ANP mRNA levels increased significantly after transfer to BW in B.b. but not in B.j., probably because of the high levels in FW. These results suggest that B.j. maintains high plasma Na+ concentration and anp gene expression to prepare for the future encounter of the high salinity. The unique preparatory mechanism may allow B.j. wide distribution in oceanic islands.
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Vol. 36 • No. 3