The Arctic pteropod Clione limacina: seasonal lipid dynamics and life-strategy
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During various seasons from May 2001 until July/August 2003, the lipid dynamics of the pteropod Clione limacina from Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, were investigated with respect to ontogenetic development and life-cycle. Polytrochous larvae, which were dominant in spring (April, May), composed the lipid-richest specimens of the population, with total lipid of about 50% of dry mass (%DM). Major lipid classes were triacylglycerols (TAG) and 1-O-alkyldiacylglycerol ethers (DAGE), accounting on average for 53.1 and 21.9% of total lipid, respectively. Until summer, larvae grew to adults by utilising their storage lipids. In July/August, lipids were depleted to about 10%DM due to maturation and reproduction. Almost all animals in autumn (September) were mature and able to replenish their lipid deposits by accumulating DAGE (26.7%) and TAG (39.6%). This is probably the prerequisite for successful overwintering.
Principal component analysis (PCA), based on the fatty acid compositions, revealed ontogenetic differences between polytrochous larvae, and small and full-grown adults. Higher proportions of 18:4(n-3) and 14:0 were found in polytrochous larvae and smaller adults during spring. Both fatty acids were highly significantly correlated with the proportions of TAG, which were used for growth and development because they are presumably easier to metabolise. PCA also divided C. limacina specimens into DAGE-rich and DAGE-poor. We suggest that DAGE are a long-term energy store and hypothesise that they are necessary during periods of food scarcity, but may also serve as an energy source for reproduction. The fatty acids 17:1(n-8), 15:0, 16:1(n-7) and 18:1(n-7) were significantly correlated with the proportion of DAGE but not with TAG. These fatty acids, which do not originate from their only prey, Limacina helicina, are synthesised de novo. Their abundance reflects an efficient lipid production by C. limacina. Based on the results of lipid biosynthesis and accumulation in combination with the population structure, we suggest that C. limacina has at least a 2-year life-cycle in Svalbard waters.