Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2001

Abstract

We examined the effects of food concentration and temperature on nucleic acids and protein content of Calanus finmarchicus in order to evaluate the use of RNA as a growth rate index for this species. We measured RNA, DNA, and protein content of copepods reared from egg to adult stage in 5 combinations of food and temperature conditions (25 to 500 µg C l-1, 4 to 12°C). At 8°C, DNA, RNA and protein content and RNA:DNA differed among food treatments during Stages N6 through to adult female. Protein:DNA ratios and RNA:protein ratios were significantly different among food levels for only 3 of the 8 stages examined. At excess food, DNA, RNA, and protein content and RNA:DNA ratios were inversely related to temperature for most stages from C1 onward, but the effect of temperature was relatively small over the range of temperatures investigated. The RNA:DNA and protein:DNA ratios increased with developmental stage whereas the RNA:protein ratio and growth rates (measured in terms of protein, nitrogen, DNA, and carbon content) declined with increasing stage. Although the relationship of RNA:DNA to growth rates was stage-specific, the two were related when standardized for temperature and developmental stage. RNA:protein ratios were directly related to growth rates regardless of stage, and the slope of the relationship increased with increasing temperature in a nonlinear fashion. Our results emphasize the importance of temperature and developmental stage for the relationship of growth rates to RNA concentration and RNA:DNA ratios. We propose 2 ways to estimate in situ growth rates of C. finmarchicus from RNA:DNA or RNA:protein ratios and environmental temperature

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