The annual pyloric cycle of asterias rubens echinodermata asteroidea

Jangoux, M.; Impe, E.V.

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 30(2): 165-184


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-0981
Accession: 006600629

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Observations of biochemical changes in the pyloric ceca of A. rubens L. in different nutritional states and at different stages of the reproductive cycle show the existence of an annual cycle in the pyloric ceca. This pyloric cycle is closely related to that of the gonads. During the gonadal rest (May-Sept., when the gonads are barely visible) the pyloric ceca grow and store glycogen. During gonadal activity (Oct.-April), they progressively autolyze and first accumulate, then liberate lipid reserves. Winter pyloric autolysis provides the gonads with the structural material necessary for their annual growth. Summer pyloric growth must be interpreted as the accumulation of the structural material. Under normal conditions, during gonadal rest, the pyloric glycogen reserves ensure the animal's survival. Pyloric lipid reserves appear only at the beginning of gonadal activity. Their synthesis is intimately related to the start of the gonadal activity of which they are the principal energy source. The pyloric cycle is probably under control of hormones that could be transported through the hemal system. The pyloric ceca are the only starfish reserve organs. Neither the other digestive organs nor the body wall accumulate energy reserves. During starvation of medium duration (2-4 wk) the pyloric ceca suffice to ensure survival by liberating their reserve material and simultaneously starting to autolyze. During prolonged starvation, general autolysis occurs and starfish size diminishes.