Main content area

The fat body of bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) tadpoles during metamorphosis: Changes in mass, histology, and melatonin content and effect of food deprivation

Wright, Mary L., Richardson, Shaun E., Bigos, Jill M.
Comparative biochemistry and physiology 2011 v.160 no.4 pp. 498-503
Lithobates catesbeianus, adipocytes, body weight, fat body, food deprivation, histology, melatonin, metamorphosis, seasonal variation, starvation, tadpoles
The fat body of Lithobates catesbeianus (formerly Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles was studied during metamorphosis and after food deprivation in order to detect changes in its weight, adipocyte size, histology, and melatonin content. Bullfrog tadpoles have large fat bodies throughout their long larval life. Fat bodies increase in absolute weight, and weight relative to body mass, during late stages of prometamorphosis, peaking just before climax, and then decreasing, especially during the latter stages of transformation into the froglet. The climax decrease is accompanied by a reduction in size of adipocytes and a change in histology of the fat body such that interstitial tissue becomes more prominent. Food deprivation for a month during early prometamorphosis significantly decreased fat body weight and adipocyte size but did not affect the rate of development. However, food restriction just before climax retarded development, suggesting that the increased nutrient storage in the fat body before climax is necessary for metamorphic progress. Melatonin, which might be involved in the regulation of seasonal changes in fat stores, stayed approximately at the same level during most of larval life, but increased sharply in the fat body during the late stages of climax. The findings show that the rate of development of these tadpoles is not affected by starvation during larval life as long as they can utilize fat body stores for nourishment. They also suggest that the build up of fat body stores just before climax is necessary for progress during the climax period when feeding stops.