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Fourteen acidic and neutral free amino acids (FAA) were investigated in soft tissue of Macoma balthica from different depth zones of the Gulf of Gdansk (Baltic Sea) over a full seasonal cycle. The dry weight of the bivalves and physico-chemical parameters of overlying bottom water and surface sediments were measured simultaneously at each site. In the brackish waters of the Baltic, the main pool of FAA is composed of Ala, Gln, Arg, Gly and Orn which represent approximately 80% of the total. Compared to the full saline environments, the composition of FAA in the clams from the Baltic differs substantially. The differences can be attributed to the lower salinity of the Baltic. In the Baltic, Gly appears to play a most important role in regulating intracellular osmolarity in the clams, a function performed primarily by Tau in Atlantic and North Sea populations. Spatio-temporal variations of the FAA are affected by biotic and environmental parameters; their respective influence differs with the amino acids. The concentration of Arg depends on its uptake from the external medium. However, its level might be temporarily modified by stress-induced metabolic transformation (e.g. hydrolysis to Orn) caused by changes in the ambient environment. The concentration of Ala increases with depth, probably because of physiological adaptations of the animal to diminishing oxygen concentration through anaerobic glucose catabolism. Biosynthesis of Ala, similarly to Gln, in the shallower zone is generally related to the physiological state of an organism. The concentration of Gly is most likely regulated by internal mechanisms driven by gonadal development and reproduction. [KEYWORDS: Free amino acids; Macoma balthica; Baltic Sea; Spatial and seasonal variations]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-592
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

ID: 114199