Marine Biology

, Volume 155, Issue 1, pp 37–49 | Cite as

Seasonal variation in the white muscle biochemical composition of deep-sea macrourids in the North-east Atlantic

  • K. M. KempEmail author
  • K. P. P. Fraser
  • M. A. Collins
  • I. G. Priede
Original Paper


The foremost temporal signal to the deep benthos, where temperature and light conditions are relatively constant, is a seasonal pulse of organic carbon sinking from the photic layer. In the Porcupine Seabight region of the NE Atlantic this flux begins during late spring and early summer, although the timing and intensity of the peak varies annually. A rapid response to this nutrient input is most apparent amongst bacteria and benthic meiofauna which can directly utilize the carbon. The question remains as to whether the seasonal influx of carbon to the deep Atlantic may affect, and possibly entrain, aspects of the life cycles of generalist scavengers near the top of the trophic hierarchy, such as macrourid fish. Biochemical analyses of the white muscle of three macrourid species indicate a slight seasonal effect. White muscle protein content in Coryphaenoides rupestris is twofold higher in autumn than spring, RNA content and RNA to protein ratio increased in C. guentheri in autumn, and protein, RNA, and RNA to protein ratio all are higher during autumn than spring in shallow living C. armatus (2,500 m). Changes in RNA to protein ratio in the white muscle of C. armatus, relative to depth of capture, appear to reflect expected patterns in specific growth rate. Significantly higher RNA to protein ratios are apparent in shallow than deep living C. armatus in both seasons. There is no significant decline in white muscle protein content with depth of capture in these three taxonomically related species. Data were collected over several successive years and the possibility of interannual variability complicates the interpretation of seasonal patterns. Despite these limitations this study does indicate a slight seasonal difference in the growth rate of C. rupestris, C. guentheri and C. armatus in the deep Northeast Atlantic.


Phytoplankton White Muscle Protein Ratio Intermediate Depth Stomach Fullness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank JC Drazen and two anonymous reviewers for critically reviewing this manuscript. This work was supported by NERC grant GR3/12789. We thank the ship companies and crew of RRS Discovery cruises 255, 260 and 266. Many thanks also to R Shreeve of the British Antarctic Survey for her assistance with this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Kemp
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. P. P. Fraser
    • 2
  • M. A. Collins
    • 2
  • I. G. Priede
    • 1
  1. 1.OceanlabUniversity of AberdeenNewburghUK
  2. 2.British Antarctic SurveyNERCCambridgeUK

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