Distribution of lipids from the yolk to the tissues during development of the water python (Liasis fuscus)

BK Speake, MB Thompson, FE Thacker, Gavin Shane Bedford

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


Energy metabolism during embryonic development of snakes differs in several respects from the patterns displayed by other reptiles. There are, however, no previous reports describing the main energy source for development, the yolk lipids, in snake eggs. There is also no information on the distribution of yolk fatty acids to the tissues during snake development. In eggs of the water python (Liasis fuscus), we report that triacylglycerol, phospholipid, cholesteryl ester and free cholesterol, respectively, form 70.3%, 14.1%, 5.7% and 2.1% of the total lipid. The main polyunsaturate of the yolk lipid classes is 18:2n-6. The yolk phospholipid contains 20:4n-6 and 22:6n-3 at 13.0% and 3.6% (w/w), respectively. Approximately 10% and 30% of the initial egg lipids are respectively recovered in the residual yolk and the fat body of the hatchling. A major function of yolk lipid is, therefore, to provision the neonate with large energy reserves. The proportion of 22:6n-3 in brain phospholipid of the hatchling is 11.1% (w/w): this represents only 0.24% of the amount of 22:6n-3 originally present in the egg. This also contrasts with values for free-living avian species where the proportion of DHA in neonatal brain phospholipid is 16–19%. In the liver of the newly hatched python, triacylglycerol, phospholipid and cholesteryl ester, respectively, form 68.2%, 7.7% and 14.3% of total lipid. This contrasts with embryos of birds where cholesteryl ester forms up to 80% of total liver lipid and suggests that the mechanism of lipid transfer in the water python embryo differs in some respects from the avian situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-547
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: biochemical, systemic, and environmental physiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2003


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of lipids from the yolk to the tissues during development of the water python (Liasis fuscus)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this