Proximate composition of marine invertebrates from tropical coastal waters, with emphasis on the relationship between nitrogen and protein contents
The chemical profiles of Desmapsamma anchorata, Hymeniacidon heliophila (Porifera), Bunodosoma caissarum, Renilla muelleri (Cnidaria), Aplysia brasiliana, Eledone massyae, Isognomon bicolor (Mollusca), Echinaster brasiliensis, Echinometra lucunter, Holothuria grisea, Lytechinus variegatus (Echinodermata), and Phallusia nigra (Chordata) were determined. Hydrosoluble protein was the most abundant class of substances for all species, except for the ascidian Phallusia nigra, in which the carbohydrate content was higher. The percentages of hydrosoluble protein (dry weight, dw) varied widely among the invertebrates, ranging from 5.88% (R. muelleri) to 47.6% (Eledone massyae) of the dw .The carbohydrate content fluctuated from 1.3% (R. muelleri) to 18.4% (Aplysia brasiliana) of the dw. For most of the species, lipid was the second most abundant class of substances, varying from 2.8% (R. muelleri) to 25.3% (Echinaster brasiliensis) of the dw. Wide variations were also found for the invertebrates nitrogen content, with the lowest value recorded in the cnidarian R. muelleri (2.02% of the dw) and the highest in the molluscan E. massyae (12.7% of the dw). The phosphorus content of the dw varyed from 0.24% (R. muelleri) to 1.16% (E. massyae). The amino acid composition varied largely among the species, but for most of the species glycine, arginine, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid were the most abundant amino acids, with histidine and tyrosine among the less abundant amino acids. The actual content of total protein in the samples was calculated by the sum of amino acid residues, establishing dw values that fluctuated from 11.1% (R. muelleri) to 66.7% (E. massyae). The proteinaceous nitrogen content was high in all species, with an average value of 97.3% of the total nitrogen. From data of total amino acid residues and total nitrogen, specific nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors were calculated for each species. The nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors ranged from 5.10 to 6.15, with an overall average of 5.45. The use of the specific nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors established here is recommended, since it would yield more accurate determinations of total protein in the species tested in this study.