Seasonal variations in biochemical constituents during the reproductive cycle of the female dog cockle Glycymeris glycymeris
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In an attempt to describe the biochemical events associated with the main stages of the annual and reproductive cycles of the female dog cockle Glycymeris glycymeris L., we studied seasonal variations in the various stages of oocyte development of the ovaries, and the glycogen, total protein and total lipid content of five body tissues – adductor muscle, foot, tunic coat, visceral mass and mantle. From November 1991 to November 1994, microscopic examination of the ovaries and measurement of the tissue concentrations of glycogen, total proteins and total lipids in these five body tissues were made monthly on ten female dog cockles originating from the sea area around Douarnenez (south Brittany, France). Morphological studies revealed that in the population investigated the annual cycle is characterised by three major periods: a first period of vitellogenesis extending from February/March to April/May and preceding a spawning in spring; a second period of vitellogenesis extending from May/June to September/October and leading to either no spawning, a single autumnal spawning event, or to two spawning events in summer and autumn; and a third period extending from October/November to February/March and characterised by a high level of oocyte lysis. In the muscular body tissues of the dog cockle, i.e. the adductor muscles, the foot and the tunic coat (the muscular envelope containing the visceral mass), the concentrations of glycogen, total proteins and total lipids underwent very similar variations during the annual cycle. During each stage of vitellogenesis, a typical glycogen–protein–lipid sequence was observed in the muscular tissues that was characterised firstly by a peak of glycogen concentration 2 to 3 mo before spawning, followed by a peak in total proteins 1 mo before spawning, and finally by a peak in lipid content just before spawning. A similar glycogen–protein–lipid sequence was also recorded in the first half of the winter period. However, these events were followed by general atresia affecting all oocytes in the gonad. Maximum energetic value of biochemical constituents in females coincided with peaks in lipid content in the visceral mass and mantle. These biochemical events occurred principally immediately before and at the end of oocyte lysis (December/January). A drop in the total energetic value, affecting mainly the visceral mass and the mantle, was recorded each year during the period January to March, coinciding with the period of shell growth in this species. Our data clearly indicate that in female G. glycymeris all muscular tissues contribute to the storage of glycogen and proteins, and suggest that glycogen may be the source of energy triggering vitellogenesis. Biochemical and microscopic observations revealed that oocyte development takes place during the first half of winter, but that these oocytes undergo atresia in December/January. The metabolites produced from oocyte lysis could contribute to somatic growth, which occurs in late winter.
KeywordsLipid Content Total Lipid Reproductive Cycle Body Tissue Somatic Growth
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