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The fate of dietary lipids in the Arctic ctenophore Mertensia ovum (Fabricius 1780)

Graeve, Martin, Lundberg, Marte, Böer, Marco, Kattner, Gerhard, Hop, Haakon, Falk-Petersen, Stig
Marine biology 2008 v.153 no.4 pp. 643-651
Calanus, Ctenophora, Mertensia, autumn, dietary fat, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, herbivores, lipid composition, ova, overwintering, phospholipids, reproduction, seasonal variation, spring, wax esters, zooplankton, Arctic region, Norway
Lipids of the Arctic ctenophore Mertensia ovum, collected from Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) in 2001, were analysed to investigate seasonal variability and fate of dietary lipids. Total lipids, lipid classes and fatty acid and alcohol compositions were determined in animals, which were selected according to age-group and season. Changes in lipids of age-group 0 animals were followed during growth from spring to autumn. Total lipids increased from May to September. Lipids as percentage of dry mass were lowest in August indicating their use for reproduction. Higher values occurred in September, which may be due to lipid storage for overwintering. Wax esters were the major lipid class accounting for about 50% of total lipids in age-group 0 animals from July and August. Phospholipids were the second largest lipid fraction with up to 46% in this age-group. The principal fatty acids of M. ovum from all age-groups were 22:6(n-3), 20:5(n-3) and 16:0. Wax ester fatty alcohols were dominated by 22:1(n-11) and 20:1(n-9) followed by moderate proportions of 16:0. The unique feature of M. ovum lipids was the high amount of free fatty alcohols originating probably from the dietary wax esters. In May, free alcohols exhibited the highest mean proportion with 14.6% in age-group 0 animals. We present the first data describing a detailed free fatty alcohol composition in zooplankton. This composition was very different from the alcohol composition of M. ovum wax esters because of the predominance of the long-chain monounsaturated 22:1(n-11) alcohol accounting for almost 100% of total free alcohols in some samples. The detailed lipid composition clearly reflected feeding of M. ovum on the herbivorous calanoid species, Calanus glacialis and C. finmarchicus, the abundant members of the zooplankton community in Kongsfjorden. Other copepod species or prey items seem to be less important for M. ovum.