Whole-body composition of Xenopus laevis larvae: Implications for lean body mass during development

Paul R. Territo, Allan W. Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Body composition in developing animals has been extensively investigated in fish larvae and bird embryos. However, no studies to date have attempted to determine whole-animal body composition or lean body mass (MLB) in developing amphibians. The present study investigates how body composition changes during development in Xenopus laevis and the potential implications of MLR for substrate turnover, energy stores, oxygen consumption and other physiological measures. Whole-animal composition was determined during development from eggs (NF stage 1) to 2 weeks post-feeding (NF 50-51), which represents two-thirds of the developmental period. Wet and dry masses were found to be highly correlated, with water content remaining constant at 93 % of wet mass. Whole-animal nucleic acid content was linearly correlated with both wet and dry masses, and declined relative to mass as development progressed. Similarly, total protein content was linearly correlated with wet and dry masses; however, total protein content increased with developmental stage. Amounts of individual neutral lipids were variable although, overall, total neutral lipid content declined progressively with development. The stoichiometric energy balance paralleled the changes seen in mass-specific Mo2, with the energy primarily from lipids fueling respiration up to NF 44-45. Quantification of total body composition revealed that lipid stores greatly influenced the calculations of MLB and therefore had profound underestimating effects on the mass-specific expression of numerous physiological measures through development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1022
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Development
  • Energy balance
  • Growth
  • Lean body mass
  • Lipid content
  • Nucleic acid content
  • Protein content
  • Xenopus laevis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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