First data on growth and nucleic acid and protein content of field-captured Mediterranean bluefin (Thunnus thynnus) and albacore (Thunnus alalunga) tuna larvae: a comparative study
Keywords:bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, larvae, Mediterranean, growth, RNA/DNA, proteins
The waters surrounding the Balearic archipelago are considered to be prime spawning habitats of the bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and other tuna species such as albacore (T. alalunga) in the Mediterranean. During the 2003 bluefin and albacore spawning season, a tuna larval survey (TUNIBAL 0703) was carried out to assess the distribution of bluefin larvae in relation to hydrographic mesoscale features. Tuna larvae were collected by means of surface plankton tows with a bongo gear with a quadrangular mouth measuring 1 m diagonally. The otolith microstructure of 157 and 71 field-captured larvae of Mediterranean bluefin and albacore, respectively, were analyzed to estimate the daily growth pattern. Furthermore, biochemical analysis to estimate DNA, RNA and protein content was done on another batch of 114 bluefin and 132 albacore larvae. The size range included pre-flexion to post-flexion larvae, from 2.8 to 8.6 mm in body length. bluefin and albacore larvae grew linearly in standard length (0.35 and 0.33 mm/day, respectively) and potentially with respect to dry weight. No significant differences between species were observed in the size-weight relationship, or in the allometric relationship of body size and weight to otolith radius. However, the relationship of DNA and RNA to body size and weight showed a significant difference between species. Bluefin tuna larvae showed a greater nucleic acid content than albacore larvae. Protein content showed no significant differences with respect to body length.
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