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Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Feb;146(2):241-9. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Response of two species of clams, Ruditapes decussatus and Venerupis pullastra, to starvation: physiological and biochemical parameters.

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Centro Oceanográfico de Murcia, IEO, C/Varadero, 1, 30740 San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia, Spain.


Adult specimens of two species of clams, Ruditapes decussatus and Venerupis pullastra, were starved for 84 days to determine the effect of starvation on their metabolism. The energy cost of metabolism in starvation was assessed using the oxygen consumption rates (respiration rates) of the clams and assessing the type of fuel used to provide this energy by analyzing their biochemical composition. Respiration rates decreased in both species after 15 days of starvation and remained at basal levels throughout the rest of the experimental period. Both during the first period and also after the metabolism had slowed down, the amount of energy consumed in respiration was higher in V. pullastra than in R. decussatus. The energy needed to maintain vital functions in both species is obtained from catabolism of body components, with a reduction in dry mass of the specimens, and consequently their energy content, in both species. This reduction was greater in V. pullastra given that energy demand is higher in this species. In both species carbohydrates made the largest contributions to energy output, followed by lipids in males and proteins in females. However, the energy contribution of each biochemical component differs according to species: R. decussatus obtains its energy from the catabolism of carbohydrates and proteins in equal proportion, while V. pullastra obtains it from proteins and lipids. In both species, albeit to a greater extent in R. decussatus, we observed that female specimens conserved their lipids until the later stages of the period of starvation (day 70), after which they started to metabolise their lipid components more intensely. The interspecific differences are interpreted in relation to the different habitat occupied by the two species.

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