All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Stephen A Watts

Advisory Committee Members

Addison L Lawrence

Mickie L Powell

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


An important factor in the marketability of sea urchin gonad is color. A marketable color is suggested to be dependent upon the in vivo accumulation of red and yellow carotenoid pigments within the gonad. Carotenoids obtained through the diet can be modified in sea urchins, but the function of these carotenoids is unknown. We hypothesize that differential light exposure can affect carotenoid deposition and, as a consequence, gonad color in sea urchins. We performed two experiments to determine if light spectra affect gonad color of Lytechinus variegatus. In the first experiment, urchins were fed a formulated feed supplemented with or without ß-carotene and held beneath three lighting regimes designed to emit differing wavelengths of the visible spectrum. After 12 weeks, urchins were dissected and the color of the harvested gonads (CIE L*a*b*) was measured with a Pantone Capsure RM200. Actinic light significantly increased the value of a* (red) in gonad color. Color in the orange and yellow spectra in the gonads increased in individuals fed the ß;-carotene supplemented diet. In the second experiment we cultured urchins for 9 weeks under lamps specialized to emit UV radiation. All urchins in this experiment received diets supplemented with ß-carotene. There was no significant difference in harvested gonad color between these treatments. These data suggest that light quality and dietary carotenoids affect carotenoid deposition in the gonads.



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