Perna genus was introduced to Venezuela, but nowadays, Perna perna and Perna viridis coexist and are commercially exploited from their natural beds. The aim of this work was to determine the effect of salinity on the physiological conditions of these species by studying RNA/DNA and Protein/DNA ratios. The organisms were collected from natural beds at La Esmeralda, Sucre State, Venezuela, and acclimatized for 15 days under laboratory conditions at 25ºC, 36‰ salinity, pH between 7 and 8 and more than 90% of oxygen saturation. Later, they were divided in two groups: for one group, the salinity concentration was increased (36 to 45‰), and for the other, the salinity was decreased (36 to 15‰). The rate of change was 1‰ every day. Ten organisms per group of both species were taken at each of 15, 20, 25, 30, 36, 40 y 45‰ salinity concentrations. Protein (colorimetric method) and nucleic acids (RNA and DNA by fluorometric method) concentrations were measured in the digestive gland, gills and adductor muscle tissues. Results indicate that P. perna can physiologically compensate the increase in salinity, but not when the salinity decreased, when proteins are the most needed macromolecules. The Protein/DNA index is directly related to salinity changes in both cases. P. viridis shows physiological compensation to salinity increases and decreases. The RNA/DNA index value in both cases supports this. Digestive gland and muscle tissues are the regulating tissues in both species. These results show that P. viridis has a higher degree of adaptability to salinity changes and, therefore, a greater potential for aquaculture than P. perna.
Keywords: Perna perna, Perna viridis, RNA/DNA, salinity