, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 259-286

Composition, accumulation and utilization of yolk lipids in teleost fish

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Lipid reserves in teleost eggs are stored in lipoprotein yolk and, in some species, a discrete oil globule. Lipoprotein yolk lipids are primarily polar lipids, especially phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), and are rich in (n−3) polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially 22:6(n−3) (docosahexaenoic acid, DHA). Oil consists of neutral lipids and is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Egg lipids are derived from dietary fatty acid, fatty acid mobilized from reserves and possibly fatty acid synthesized de novo. There is selective incorporation of essential fatty acids, particularly DHA, into yolk lipids and discrimination against incorporation of 22:1(n−11). Lipid is delivered to the oocyte by vitellogenin, which is rich in polar lipids, and likely also by other lipoproteins, especially very low density lipoprotein, which is rich in triacylglycerol (TAG). All classes of lipid may be used as fuel during embryonic and larval development and MUFA are preferred fatty acids for catabolism by embryos. Catabolism of oil globules is frequently delayed until latter stages of development. In some species, DHA derived from hydrolysis of phospholipid may be conserved by transfer to the neutral lipid. Recent work has expanded knowledge of the role of DHA in membrane structure, especially in neural tissue, and molecular species analysis has indicated that PE containing sn-1 oleic acid is a prime contributor to membrane fluidity. The results of this type of study provide an explanation for the selection pressures that influence yolk lipid composition. Future work ought to expand knowledge of specific roles of individual fatty acids in embryos along with knowledge of the ecological physiology of ovarian recrudescence, environmental influences on vitellogenin and yolk lipid composition, and the control of yolk lipid accumulation and utilization.