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The effect of photoperiod regimes on daily RNA:DNA ratio rhythms in Chinese soft-shelled turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis)

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The ratio of RNA to DNA is widely used to reflect instantaneous animal growth; however, little is known about its daily variation. Photoperiod can modify expression of internal clocks, providing animals with the flexibility to adapt to variable environments. This study focused on the influence of photoperiod regimes on the daily variation of RNA:DNA ratio in Pelodiscus sinensis. We randomly divided 260 turtles into four groups: constant dark (0L), 8 h light with 16 h dark (8L), 12 h light with 12 h dark (12L), and 16 h light with 8 h dark (16L). Turtles were housed under specific photoperiods for 15 days (fed for first 10 days then starved for 5 days), thereafter we sampled the tissues every 2 h for 24 h. We dissected forelimb muscles and measured the concentration of isolated RNA and DNA. There were rhythmic variations in the RNA:DNA ratio, even in turtles under continuous darkness, indicating that P. sinensis has circadian RNA:DNA ratio rhythms, and the rhythms were likely controlled by internal clocks. Additionally, the acrophase was advanced by two hours in constant darkness in contrast to the other three photoperiods, indicating that the photoperiod considerably modified the rhythm set by the internal clocks. Notably, the RNA:DNA ratio differed between photoperiod regimes, with 0L > 16L > 8L ≈ 12L, indicating the photoperiod may be a seasonal indicator for turtles to synchronize their physiological processes with environmental variations.

Affiliations: 1: College of Life Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050024, China

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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