Effect of maternal fat reserves on the fatty acid composition of sardine (Sardina pilchardus) oocytes

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Dec;148(4):398-409. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpb.2007.07.008. Epub 2007 Aug 1.


We compared the fatty acid (FA) composition of the muscle and gonads of female Iberian sardines with hydrated oocytes collected during the 2002/03 spawning season off southern Portugal (November and February) and off western Portugal (February). Sardine condition and total FA concentration in the muscle decreased between the two sampling dates, while the gonadosomatic index was similar between samples. Total monounsaturated FA concentrations in sardine gonads were different for the three samples while saturated and polyunsaturated FA concentrations were similar. Significant linear relations were found between FA concentrations in female muscle and oocytes, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4n-6), both being essential for normal larval development. The concentration of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) in oocytes was independent on muscle concentration, probably resulting from its selective transfer to the oocytes. The EPA/DHA ratio was highly conserved in sardine tissues, while DHA/AA and EPA/AA ratios varied significantly between samples. These results indicate that the FA content of eggs produced by sardines varies throughout the spawning season, egg FA concentrations decreasing as females lose condition, and FA composition also shows spatial variability. Both types of variability may have a significant impact on egg quality, particularly on the amount of reserves available to larvae affecting their resistance to starvation, and the appropriate FA composition required for normal growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / chemistry
  • Female
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Linear Models
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Mothers*
  • Muscles / chemistry
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Oocytes / chemistry*
  • Oocytes / metabolism*
  • Ovary / chemistry
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Portugal
  • Seasons


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated