Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Research Article

Egg volume, energy content and fatty acid profile of Maja brachydactyla (Crustacea: Brachyura: Majidae) during embryogenesis

Joana Figueiredoa1 c1 and Luís Narcisoa1

a1 Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939 2750–374 Cascais, Portugal


Fatty-acid and energy content of Maja brachydactyla eggs at different developmental stages (recently spawned, half-developed and ready to hatch) were analysed in order to understand what is being consumed and produced during the embryonic development. Egg volume increased during development (34%, 0.187 to 0.285 mm3, N = 270) and was negatively correlated with egg energy and fatty-acid content (r = −0.80 and r = −0.46, respectively), which decreased through embryogenesis. The most consumed fatty acids were the PUFA (21.2 μg · mg dw−1), followed by the SFA (18.8 μg · mg dw−1) and MUFA (14.9 μg · mg dw−1). Palmitic (16:0), oleic (18:1n-9) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA, 20:5n-3) acids were preferentially consumed (13.14, 9.21 and 8.67 μg · mg dw−1, respectively). The fatty acid composition found in M. brachydactyla eggs reflected the habitat and omnivorous and detritivorous scanvenger diet of the adults, although the consumption of algae was more important than previously thought, at least in the area where these adults were captured. Pre-hatching eggs have a high PUFA content (64.5 μg · mg dw−1 or 46.3% of the egg fatty-acid content). We conclude that larvae of this species might need a diet rich in PUFA, particularly EPA and DHA, for successful development. From the culture perspective, live preys commonly used in aquaculture will likely require to be enriched with DHA.

(Received December 05 2007)

(Accepted February 18 2008)

(Online publication July 08 2008)


c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: Joana Figueiredo, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Nossa Senhora do Cabo, 939, 2750–374 Cascais Portugal email: