Changes in RNA, DNA, protein contents and growth of turbot Scophthalmus maximus larvae and juveniles
The growth potential of turbot Scophthalmus maximus larvae and juveniles was studied using nucleic acid-based indices and protein variables. The experiment was carried out from 4 to 60 days post hatching (dph). A significant increase in instantaneous growth rate during metamorphosis and retarded growth rate during post-metamorphic phase were observed. Ontogenetic patterns of DNA, RNA and protein all showed developmental stage-specific traits. The RNA:DNA ratio decreased up to 12 dph, then increased rapidly till 19 dph and fluctuated until 35 dph followed by a decline to the end. The RNA:DNA ratio was positively correlated with growth rate of juveniles during the post-metamorphic phase, whereas this ratio was not a sensitive indicator of growth during the pre-metamorphic phase and metamorphosis. The protein:DNA ratio showed a similar tendency to the RNA:DNA ratio. Changes of DNA content and protein:DNA ratio revealed that growth of S. maximus performed mainly by hyperplasia from 4 to 12 dph and hypertrophy until 21 dph during the pre-metamorphic larval phase. Growth was dominantly hypertrophical from the early- to mid-metamorphosing phase and hyperplastic thereafter. The results show that the DNA content and protein:DNA ratio can evaluate growth rates of larval and juvenile S. maximus on a cellular level.