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J Exp Biol. 2008 Aug;211(Pt 15):2492-501. doi: 10.1242/jeb.015966.

Size- and age-dependent changes in adductor muscle swimming physiology of the scallop Aequipecten opercularis.

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Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Department of Biosciences, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany.


The decline of cellular and especially mitochondrial functions with age is, among other causes, held responsible for a decrease in physiological fitness and exercise capacity during lifetime. We investigated size- and age-related changes in the physiology of exercising specimens of the short lived swimming scallop Aequipecten opercularis (maximum life span 8 to 10 years) from the Isle of Man, UK. A. opercularis swim mainly to avoid predators, and a decrease in swimming abilities would increase the risk of capture and lower the rates of survival. Bigger (older) individuals were found to have lower mitochondrial volume density and aerobic capacities (citrate synthase activity and adenylates) as well as less anaerobic capacity deduced from the amount of glycogen stored in muscle tissue. Changes in redox potential, tissue pH and the loss of glutathione in the swimming muscle during the exercise were more pronounced in young compared to older individuals. This indicates that older individuals can more effectively stabilize cellular homeostasis during repeated exercise than younger animals but with a possible fitness cost as the change in physiology with age and size might result in a changed escape response behaviour towards predators.

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