- Fatty acid profiles of algae mark the development and composition of harpacticoid copepods
- Freshwater Biology
- Volume | Issue number
- 53 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
1. The value of algal fatty acids (FA) as diet biomarkers for benthic harpacticoid copepods was investigated. A high proportion of 18:1ω9 and 18:2ω6 FA was observed in the lipid reserve fraction of copepods fed with cyanobacteria. In contrast, a high proportion of 16:1ω7 and ω3 FA (including eicosapentaenoic) was present in the lipid reserve fraction of copepods grown on diatoms.
2. Copepods that were grown on cyanobacteria showed reduced survival and took 26% more time to develop from the first copepodid stage to adult than copepods that were grown on diatoms. Copepods feeding on the cyanobacteria showed reduced FA content when compared with animals fed with diatoms. This reduction in FA content was more pronounced in the apolar lipid fraction (mainly reserve lipids) than in the polar (mainly structural) lipid fraction.
3. The FA profiles of algae were used to calculate a function discriminating between diatoms and cyanobacteria. This function was applied to the FA profiles in the reserve lipid fraction of copepods and correctly classified copepod diet. 16:1ω7, 18:2ω6 and 20:5ω3 were the most important FA in the discriminant function. The suitability of this chemometric method to infer copepod diet was further tested by using algal class FA data from literature to derive the discriminant functions. The correct classification of the diet when the functions were applied to FA composition of the copepod reserve lipids suggests that this method may be employed in trophic web studies. 18:3ω3, 18:1ω9 and 16:1ω7 were the most important FA in the functions discriminating diatoms, cyanobacteria and green algae. The identification and quantification of the whole suit of 16:1ω7, 18:1ω9, 18:2ω6, 18:3ω3 and 20:5ω3 in trophic web studies is therefore of paramount importance to infer diet origin of aquatic herbivores.
4. The FA profile of copepod polar lipids did not reflect that of the diet. The presence of long chain polyunsaturated FAs in the polar lipid fraction of copepods feeding on the cyanobacterium suggests that C18 FAs from the diet may be elongated and desaturated by the copepod. The ability to elongate and desaturated FAs may reduce the importance of some FAs as diet biomarkers while it may turn the copepods into valuable trophic intermediaries in transferring organic matter from microorganisms to higher trophic levels.
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