The effects of four different ante-mortem stressors (exercise, emersion, starvation and a patent infection with the parasite Hematodinium sp.) on post-mortem processes have been investigated in the abdominal muscle of Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus by measuring changes in the pH, the levels of glycogen, l-lactate, arginine phosphate, ATP, ADP, AMP, IMP, HxR, Hx and the adenylate energy charge (AEC) over a time course of 24 h with samples being taken at 0, 3, 6, 12 and 24 h. The acute stresses of intense exercise and 2 h emersion resulted in a premature onset of anaerobic glycolysis, leading both to an enhanced glycogen depletion rate and an early accumulation of l-lactate. The chronic stressors, starvation and parasite infection, resulted in a complete ante-mortem depletion of muscle glycogen and consequently the failure of post-mortem glycolytic fermentation. Post-mortem pH and ATP inter-conversion were significantly altered in chronically stressed animals. Ante-mortem, a rapid, almost complete depletion of arginine phosphate was observed in all stress groups. The AEC was altered significantly by all stresses, indicating a strong energy demand. The findings suggest that ante-mortem stressors strongly influence the post-mortem biochemical processes. The laboratory-based results are compared to 'field' data and effects on post-harvest product quality are discussed
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