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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 153654, 7 pages
Research Article

Ecological Relevance of Hemolymph Total Protein Concentration in Seven Unrelated Crustacean Species from Different Habitats Measured Predictively by a Density-Salinity Refractometer

1Dipartimento di Oceanografia Biologica, Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale, Via A. Piccard 54, S. Croce, 34010 Trieste, Italy
2Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Via Giorgieri 7, 34127 Trieste, Italy

Received 29 March 2011; Revised 6 June 2011; Accepted 9 September 2011

Academic Editor: Garth L. Fletcher

Copyright © 2011 Simonetta Lorenzon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In recent years, blood metabolites have been investigated as a tool for monitoring physiological condition in wild or cultured crustaceans exposed to different environmental conditions. Blood protein levels fluctuate with changes in environmental and physiological conditions and play fundamental roles in the physiology of crustaceans from O2 transport to reproduction up to stress responses. Proteins are major contributors to hemolymph density, and the present study correlates the easy and low cost measure of hemolymph density by a density-salinity refractometer with the total protein concentration, measured with a colorimetric method. Moreover, the study evaluates the accuracy of the relationship and provides a conversion factor from hemolymph density to protein in seven species of crustaceans, representative of taxa far apart in the phylogenetic tree and characterized by different life habits. Measuring serum-protein concentration by using a refractometer can provide a non-destructive field method to assess crustacean populations/species protein-related modifications of physiological state without need of costly laboratory facilities and procedures.