Batoidea (rays and skates) is a monophyletic subgroup of elasmobranchs that diverged from the common ancestor with Selachii (sharks) about 270 Mya. A larger number of batoids can adapt to low-salinity environments, in contrast to sharks, which are mostly stenohaline marine species. Among osmoregulatory organs of elasmobranchs, the kidney is known to be dedicated to urea retention in ureosmotic cartilaginous fishes. However, we know little regarding urea reabsorbing mechanisms in the kidney of batoids. Here, we performed physiological and histological investigations on the nephrons in the red stingray (Hemitrygon akajei) and two shark species. We found that the urine/plasma ratios of salt and urea concentrations in the stingray are significantly lower than those in cloudy catshark (Scyliorhinus torazame) under natural seawater, indicating that the kidney of stingray more strongly reabsorbs these osmolytes. By comparing the three-dimensional images of nephrons between stingray and banded houndshark (Triakis scyllium), we showed that the tubular bundle of stingray has a more compact configuration. In the compact tubular bundle of stingray kidney, the distal diluting tubule was highly developed and frequently coiled around the proximal and collecting tubules. Furthermore, co-expression of NKAα1 (Na+/K +-ATPase) and NKCC2 (Na+- K+-2Cl– cotransporter 2) mRNAs was prominent in the coiled diluting segment. These findings imply that NaCl reabsorption is greatly facilitated in the stingray kidney, resulting in a higher reabsorption rate of urea. Lowering the loss of osmolytes in the glomerular filtrate is likely favorable to the adaptability of batoids to a wide range of environmental salinity.
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Vol. 37 • No. 5