Lipid biochemistry and reproductive biology in two species of Gammaridae (Crustacea: Amphipoda)

Gammarus oceanicus Segerstråle, 1947 and Echinogammarus marinus (Leach, 1815) were sampled during the breeding season from Oslofjord in 1984, and their lipid composition examined in relation to reproductive condition. In G. oceanicus, female lipid content increased as the ovary matured. Both the amount of lipid stored and the rate of accumulation were greater in spring than in winter. Spring eggs contained 12.4 μg lipid, of which 63% was triacylglycerol and 27% phospholipid. Both fractions decreased steadily during embryonic development. Winter eggs contained 19.2μg lipid, of which 52% was triacylglycerol and 43% phospholipid. During the early stages of embryonic development the amount of phospholipid decreased sharply, whereas that of triacylglycerol increased, suggesting that some of the fatty acid released from phospholipid was sequestered temporarily as triacylglycerol. When newly spawned, both winter and spring eggs were richer in monoenoic fatty acids than adult amphipods and these acids were the major fuel consumed during development. ω6 fatty acids were utilised more slowly than ω3 acids, and egg carotenoid pigment content remained constant. Female E. marinus increased in lipid content as the ovary matured. Spring eggs contained 14.7 μg lipid when newly spawned and this increased to 16.6 μg during the early stages of development. This increase was entirely triacylglycerol, which declined in later stages; the source of the extra lipid was unclear. Eggs contained very little phospholipid or sterol, and both of these components remained at a steady low level during development. E. marinus eggs were not significantly rich in thonoenoic acids compared with adults, and saturated, monoenoic and polyenoic acids were utilised about equally during development. Both adults and eggs were rich in 20.4ω6, which was utilised at a slower rate than the ω3 polyunsaturated acids during embryonic development; again, egg carotenoid pigment content remained constant. In both species there was a decrease in the size of the egg (and as a result, of the newly hatched juvenile), but an increase in total reproductive output (i.e., the total weight of the egg clutch) per female as the breeding season proceeded. The reproductive output of an individual female is probably related to food availability during the period of ovarian maturation, whereas the size of an individual egg is dictated largely by feeding conditions for the juveniles once they are independent of the female. The different patterns of lipid utilisation during development found in this study emphasize the flexibility of response in the reproductive biology of gammarid amphipods. It is not yet possible, however, to relate the differing patterns in a simple way either to egg size or total female reproductive output. Two outstanding problems are the source of extra triacylglycerol during the early stages of development of E. marinus and the metabolic cost of brooding eggs.


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Authors: Clarke, Andrew ORCIDORCID record for Andrew Clarke, Skadsheim, A., Holmes, L.J.

On this site: Andrew Clarke
1 September, 1985
Marine Biology / 88
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