Extended Oxygen Delivery from the Nerve Hemoglobin of Tellina alternata (Bivalvia)

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Science  04 Apr 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4746, pp. 90-92
DOI: 10.1126/science.232.4746.90


An oxygen-binding hemoglobin localized in the nerves of Tellina alternata (Bivalvia) required 30 minutes to unload oxygen when excised nerves were exposed to pure nitrogen. Neural excitability under these conditions could be sustained only until deoxygenation of the hemoglobin was complete. When the oxygen-combining function of the hemoglobin was abolished with carbon monoxide, the neural excitability ceased within a few minutes of oxygen removal, a response identical to that of hemoglobinless homologous nerves of other bivalves. These results demonstrate that aerobic activity can be supported by the oxygen stored on hemoglobin in microscopic tissues for a considerable time under anoxic conditions.