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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 407:87-98 (2010)  -  DOI:

Seasonal and spatial variations in the RNA:DNA ratio and its relation to growth in sub-Arctic scallops

Martin Emil Blicher1,3,*, Catriona Clemmesen2, Mikael Kristian Sejr3, Søren Rysgaard1

1Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Kivioq 2, Box 570, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland
2Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR), Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
3National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Vejlsøvej 25, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark

ABSTRACT: We examined the RNA and DNA concentration of field-caught scallops Chlamys islandica, maintained in suspended cultures at 15 and 30 m depth, and scallops from a wild population at 50 to 60 m in Kobbefjord, southwest Greenland. General relations between RNA and DNA concentrations and individual shell height were established, and we found that the RNA:DNA ratio (RD) worked well as a standardisation of the RNA concentration independent of size and sex. During an experimental period of 14 mo, we observed a pronounced seasonal pattern in RD and mass growth, and differences between depths. Even though the period with high levels of RD reflected the growth season relatively well, RD was a poor predictor of individual mass growth rates of C. islandica. However, we found a non-linear response in RD to increased food concentrations resulting in RD being up- and down-regulated at the beginning and end of the productive summer season, respectively. These results indicate that short-term dynamics in the actual mass growth rate might be controlled through regulation of ribosome activity rather than ribosome number (RNA concentration). This adaption would allow scallops to up-regulate protein synthesis more rapidly, thereby ensuring efficient utilisation of the intense peaks in food availability in coastal areas in the Arctic. Therefore, we suggest that RD in C. islandica reflects the growth potential rather than the actual growth rate. Still, the amount of unexplained variance in RD is considerable and not independent over time, suggesting the existence of unresolved mechanisms or relationships.

KEY WORDS: Macrobenthos · Bivalve · Pectinid · Chlamys islandica · Greenland · Biomarker · Food availability

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Cite this article as: Blicher ME, Clemmesen C, Sejr MK, Rysgaard S (2010) Seasonal and spatial variations in the RNA:DNA ratio and its relation to growth in sub-Arctic scallops. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 407:87-98.

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