Free amino acid composition in juveniles of Mytilus galloprovincialis: spatial variability after Prestige oil spill

Jose M F Babarro, María José Fernández Reiriz, José Luis Garrido, Uxío Labarta
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology 2006, 145 (2): 204-13
Composition of free amino acids (FAA) in juveniles of Mytilus galloprovincialis was analysed along a large geographical coastline area in Galicia (NW Spain). Individuals were sampled in February 2003, three months after the Prestige oil spill. Pollution values at sampling time were reported as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concentrations in soft tissues of individuals and varied between the highest amount observed in Carrumeiro mussels (502 ng/g dw) and the lowest in Pindo mussels (196 ng/g dw), both locations being close to each other in the centre of the geographical area under study. Pollution values in the other populations varied within the range of 241-347 ng/g dw. Total free amino acids (TFAA) were highest in Aguiño-Pindo-Carrumeiro juveniles at the centre of the Coastline area studied (420-462 micromol/g dw) as compared to the other populations at North and South of Galicia (312-347 micromol/g dw). TFAA results were based on the variability observed in protein free amino acids (PFAA micromol/g dw) among populations (214-249 micromol/g dw for Aguiño-Pindo-Carrumeiro mussels and 98-149 micromol/g dw for the other populations) whereas non-protein free amino acids (NPFAA) taurine and ornithine did not show any significant spatial pattern of variation. Glycine and alanine represented the most abundant PFAA (16-29% and 2.7-11.9% of TPFAA, respectively) and significant correlations between PFAA and both the protein content of soft tissues (r=-0.82) and the condition index of juveniles (r=0.86) were observed. No significant relationships were detected, however, between pollution values in soft tissues as PAHs and FAA profiles with the exception of alanine concentrations as percentage of TFAA (r=0.88; P<0.01). The latter seemed to be an "all or nothing" effect likely due to the influence of other abiotic factors at one of the sampling sites. Such relationship was found not significant when the outlier represented by Carrumeiro mussels was removed from the analysis. The most abundant free amino acid taurine (43.2-68.5%TFAA) followed an inverse variability of that of glycine and by extension of the group PFAA most likely as a compensatory decrease in mussel populations with low protein content (and high condition index). Accordingly, taurine:glycine (t:g) ratio varied between 1 and 2 in most mussel populations but increased up to 3.2-4.2 in Miranda and Bueu mussels at both ends of the geographical interval studied with a corresponding PAHs concentrations of 261 and 304 ng/g dw, respectively. These mussel populations with the highest t:g ratios were characterised by the lowest PFAA contents (below 40%) and condition index values (below 10%). Results of the present study established a significant link between energetic status of growing juveniles and FAA concentrations in environments with different pollution degrees. Variability of the free amino acids profiles in soft tissues were related to endogenous factors of juveniles (protein content, condition index) whereas no relationship with contamination values could be observed. The utility of t:g ratio as general condition factor for M. galloprovincialis is also corroborated for in situ growing juveniles.

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