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Lipids of the eggs and neonates of oviparous and viviparous lizards.

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Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Scottish Agricultural College, Auchincruive, KA6 5HW, Ayr, UK.


The purpose of this article is to collate the compositional data for the lipids of the eggs and neonates of ten species of lizards displaying a range of parity modes, to highlight emergent trends and to identify some of the physiological changes central to the evolution of viviparity. The eggs of oviparous species and of viviparous species with a simple (type I) placenta are characterised by very high proportions of triacylglycerol which forms over 80% (wt. /wt.) of the total yolk lipid. The eggs of viviparous species with complex (types II and III) placentae contain lower proportions of triacylglycerol (about 70% of total yolk lipid) and commensurately greater proportions of phospholipid, cholesteryl ester and free cholesterol. The fatty acid compositions of the yolk lipids are very similar for all the lizard species, irrespective of parity mode; in particular, the proportions of docosahexaenoic acid are consistently low. For all the species, the proportions of both docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids are higher in the phospholipid of the neonate compared with the egg. The difference between the lipid contents of the eggs and the neonates indicates that, in species of Pseudemoia which have a complex (type III) placenta, more than 50% of the total lipid supplied to the embryo is derived from placental transport.

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