Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 197, Issue 8, pp 789–797 | Cite as

Melatonin in octopus (Octopus vulgaris): tissue distribution, daily changes and relation with serotonin and its acid metabolite

  • José L. P. Muñoz
  • Marcos A. López Patiño
  • Consuelo Hermosilla
  • Marta Conde-Sieira
  • José L. Soengas
  • Francisco Rocha
  • Jesús M. Míguez
Original Paper


Information regarding melatonin production in molluscs is very limited. In this study the presence and daily fluctuations of melatonin levels were investigated in hemolymph, retina and nervous system-related structures in the cephalopod Octopus vulgaris. Adult animals were maintained in captivity under natural photoperiod and killed at different times in a regular daily cycle. Levels of melatonin, serotonin (5-HT) and its acid metabolite (5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, 5-HIAA) in the hemolymph, retina, optic lobe, and cerebral ganglion were assayed by HPLC. Melatonin content fluctuated rhythmically in the retina and hemolymph, peaking at night. In the retina, but not in the other neural tissues, the rhythm was opposite to that of 5-HT, which displayed basal levels at night. Also, 5-HIAA levels in the retina were higher during the night, supporting that rhythmic melatonin production could be linked to diurnal changes in 5-HT degradation. The high levels of melatonin found in the retina point to it as the major source of melatonin in octopus; in addition, a large variation of melatonin content was found in the optic lobe with maximal values at night. All these data suggest that melatonin might play a role in the transduction of the light–dark cycle information for adjustment of rhythmic physiological events in cephalopods.


Melatonin Cephalopods Octopus vulgaris Daily rhythms Serotonin 



Animals were supplied by the “Cofradía de Naceiros de San Bartolomeu” in Moaña (Pontevedra, Spain). J.L.P. Muñoz is a CONICYT doctoral fellowship recipient (BIRF-Chile Government). M. Conde is a FPI (BES-2008-002914) fellow. C. Hermosilla had a fellowship from the ECOSUMMER Marie Curie training site (MEST-CT-2005-020501). M.A. López (P.P. 0000 300S 14008) is an Isidro Parga Pondal Researcher from Xunta de Galicia. This work was partially supported from Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación and European Fund of Regional Development (AGL2010-22247-C03-03). The authors would also like to thank ECIMAT (University of Vigo) for animal housing and care. All procedures were done according to the European Union Council (86/609/EU) and Spanish Government (RD 1201/2005) legal requirements, and the reported ethical and welfare considerations when using cephalopods (Moltschaniwskyj et al. 2007).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • José L. P. Muñoz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marcos A. López Patiño
    • 2
    • 3
  • Consuelo Hermosilla
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marta Conde-Sieira
    • 1
    • 3
  • José L. Soengas
    • 1
    • 3
  • Francisco Rocha
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jesús M. Míguez
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Lab. Fisioloxia Animal, Facultade de BioloxíaUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain
  2. 2.Facultade de Ciencias do MarUniversidade de VigoVigoSpain
  3. 3.Estación de Ciencias Mariñas de Toralla (ECIMAT)Universidade de VigoVigoSpain

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