RNA concentration and the RNA to protein ratio in cephalopod tissues: sources of variation and relationship with growth rate

G J Pierce, L N Key, P R Boyle, K J Siegert, J M Goncalves, F M Porteiro, H R Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


RNA and protein concentrations, and the RNA to protein ratio, were measured in four species of cephalopods, to evaluate sources of variation and the potential for using RNA concentration and the RNA to protein ratio as growth indices. In field samples of Loliga forbesi and Eledone cirrhosa, RNA concentrations and the RNA to protein ratio were higher in immature animals than in mature animals. In Loligo forbesi, values were also higher in males than in females and higher in smaller individuals than in large individuals. Both these trends are consistent with expected differences in growth rate, i.e. RNA is higher in faster growing animals. Mature female Eledone cirrhosa, a species in which the female is larger and presumably grows faster, had higher RNA concentrations than mature males. However, no such difference between the sexes was seen for immature E. cirrhosa or Todarodes sagittatus.

Methods for transport and maintenance of Loligo forbesi in captivity in the Azores are described. Many of the captive squid showed poor growth and survival but results from these animals nevertheless confirmed that RNA concentrations were higher in males than in females and higher in animals with smaller gonads than in animals with large gonads. Higher protein concentrations were found in males than in females, and protein concentration was also positively correlated with feeding rate and digestive gland indices. Octopus vulgaris held in captivity grew rapidly and consistently and RNA concentrations were lower in bigger animals than in smaller animals. Neither experiment provided direct support for the hypothesis that RNA concentration or the RNA to protein ratio is directly related to growth rate. Systematic variation in protein concentration, e.g. in relation to recent feeding, leads us to suggest that protein concentration (mg/g fresh body weight) is likely to provide a more reliable index than the RNA to protein ratio. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science BN. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-201
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 1999


  • squid loligo-forbesi
  • cod Gadus-Morhua
  • RNA/DNA ratios
  • Irish Waters
  • DNA ratios
  • lolignidae
  • larvae
  • mollusca
  • age
  • cuttlefish

Cite this