The annual pyloric cycle of Asterias rubens L. (Echinodermata: Asteroidea)

Jangoux, M. van Imps, E.

Journal of exp mar Biol Ecol 302: 165-184


DOI: 10.1016/0022-0981(77)90010-7
Accession: 023817347

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Observations of biochemical changes in the pyloric caeca of Asterias rubens L. in different nutritional states and at different stages of the reproductive cycle show the existence of an annual cycle in the pyloric caeca. This pyloric cycle is closely related to that of the gonads. During the gonadal rest (May to September, when the gonads are barely visible) the pyloric caeca grow and store glycogen. During gonadal activity (October to April), they progressively autolyse and first accumulate, then liberate, lipid reserves. This winter pyloric autolysis provides the gonads with the structural material necessary for their annual growth. The 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 survival of the animal. 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. We believe that the pyloric cycle is under control of hormones that could be transported through the haemal system.The pyloric caeca are the only reserve organs of starfish. Neither the other digestive organs nor the body wall accumulate energy reserves. During starvation of medium duration (2 to 4 weeks) the pyloric caeca suffice to ensure the survival of the animal by liberating their reserve material and simultaneously starting to autolyse. During prolonged starvation, general autolysis occurs and the size of the starfish diminishes.