Seasonal variations in condition index and biochemical composition of the cockle Fulvia mutica (Reeve) were studied from March 2004 to February 2005 in eastern coast of China in relation to reproductive cycle. The condition index declined during gametogenesis and spawning, recovered when the gonad was in resting phase. Histological analysis and measurements of protein, glycogen and lipid levels and RNA:DNA ratio from gonad-visceral mass, mantle, adductor muscle, and foot of F. mutica were performed. Gametogenesis took place during winter and spring at the expense of reserves (glycogen in various organs, protein in the foot, lipid in the adductor muscle), which were accumulated previously during summer and autumn. Spawning occurred in May to June when water temperature was higher and food availability was abundant. The RNA:DNA ratio is a good indicator of sexual maturity in the gonad-visceral mass; the increasing RNA:DNA ratio in the gonad-visceral mass appears to show the rising synthetic activity of vitellin within the gonad. The results demonstrated that F. mutica may be considered a conservative species in gametogenic pattern. The useful information obtained in this study can be applied for management of populations and to initiate aquaculture activities in this species.
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Vol. 27 • No. 2