, Volume 169, Issue 4-5, pp 319-328

Placental transfer of nutrients during gestation in the viviparous lizard, Pseudemoia spenceri

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Energy, ionic, protein and lipid contents and fatty acid profiles for the major lipid classes of freshly ovulated eggs and neonates of the viviparous lizard, Pseudemoia spenceri, were measured. Litter size is 1.7 ± 0.1, with larger females producing larger neonates. Placentotrophy results in approximately 23% more dry matter in the neonates than in the fresh egg. The increase in the quantity of protein and lipid during development is not significant and is reflected in the similarity of energy densities of eggs and neonates. As a percentage of dry matter, neonates have slightly lower proportions of lipid and protein than eggs because of significant uptake of ash, calcium, potassium and sodium, but not of magnesium, across the placenta. The amounts of triacylglycerol and phospholipid are not significantly different between the egg and the neonate, but neonates contain significantly more cholesterol and cholesteryl ester. The amounts of the major fatty acids, palmitic and oleic acids, recovered from the total lipids of the neonate do not differ significantly from the amounts present in the egg lipids, but the neonates contain significantly less linoleic and α-linolenic acids and more palmitoleic, stearic and arachidonic acids than the eggs. The amount of docosahexaenoic acid recovered from the lipids of the neonate is 2.6-times greater than the amount initially present in the egg. P. spenceri has a relatively larger egg and a smaller reliance on placentotrophy than other species in the same genus, all of which have a similar placental morphology. Nevertheless, the pattern of embryonic nutrition includes both obligative and facultative placentotrophy. All the major components of yolk of oviparous species are present in eggs of P. spenceri, but most are augmented during development by placental transfer.

Accepted: 8 April 1999