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Anaerobic and aerobic energy metabolism in ovaries of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis


The gonads of sea urchins undergo large changes in mass during their gametogenic cycle. In addition, they have relatively low aerobic capacities and are poorly perfused by the circulatory system and thus are continually hypoxic or anoxic. The present study of Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis investigates seasonal changes in the relationships among mass of the ovaries, pH and PO2 of the perivisceral coelomic fluid which bathes the ovaries, and partitioning of ovary energy metabolism into its anaerobic and aerobic components. S. droebachiensis were collected at Blue Hill Falls, Maine, USA, from August 1982 to March 1984. We found that from 76 to 92% of the heat dissipated by isolated ovaries of the sea urchin S. droebachiensis derives from anaerobic energy metabolism at partial pressures of oxygen prevailing in vivo. Ovaries from S. droebachiensis have the capacity to produce large amounts of lactate under imposed anoxia, but lactate accounts for only 37% of the total anoxic heat dissipation, which suggests that other end products of anaerobiosis are present. Seasonal changes in pH and PO2 of the perivisceral coelomic fluid can be explained by a complex relationship among changes in temperature, reproductive condition, and anaerobic and aerobic metabolism in the ovaries, gut and body wall. Seasonal changes in the buffering capacity of the perivisceral coelomic fluid must be determined before the effects of respiratory and metabolic acid production on the acid-base status of the coelomic fluid can be fully understood.

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Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa

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Bookbinder, L.H., Shick, J.M. Anaerobic and aerobic energy metabolism in ovaries of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis . Marine Biology 93, 103–110 (1986).

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  • Energy Metabolism
  • Seasonal Change
  • Heat Dissipation
  • Body Wall
  • Aerobic Capacity