Polar Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 131–137 | Cite as

Identification of the sea ice diatom biomarker IP25 in Arctic benthic macrofauna: direct evidence for a sea ice diatom diet in Arctic heterotrophs

  • Thomas A. BrownEmail author
  • Simon T. Belt
Original Paper


Currently, the impact of declining seasonal sea ice extent in the Arctic on polar food webs remains uncertain. Previously, a range of proxy techniques has been employed to determine links between sea ice or phytoplankton primary production and the Arctic marine food web, although it is accepted that such approaches have their limitations. Here, we propose a novel approach to tracing sea ice primary production through Arctic food webs using the sea ice diatom biomarker, IP25. Various benthic macrofaunal specimens were collected between March and May 2008 from Franklin Bay in the Amundsen Gulf, Arctic Canada, as part of the International Polar Year–Circumpolar Flaw Lead system study. Each specimen was analysed for the presence of the sea ice diatom biomarker IP25 in order to provide evidence for feeding by benthic organisms on sea ice algae. IP25 was found in nineteen out of the twenty-one specimens analysed, often as the most abundant of the highly branched isoprenoid biomarkers detected. The stable isotope composition of IP2513C = −17.1 ± 0.5‰) in the sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus sp.) specimens was similar to that reported previously for this biomarker in Arctic sea ice, sedimenting particles and sediments. It is concluded that detection of IP25 in Arctic benthic macrofauna represents a novel approach to providing convincing evidence for feeding on sea ice algae. It is also proposed that analysis of IP25 may be used to trace trophic transfer of sea ice algal-derived organic matter through Arctic food webs in the future.


IP25 Arctic Sea ice Biomarker Food web Macrofauna Benthos 



We thank the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, UK) for funding part of this work (NE/D013216/1, LSMSBRIS026_04/08) and, in particular, for providing a PhD studentship to T.B. (NE/F007043/1). Partial operating funds for the CCGS Amundsen were provided by the International Joint Ventures Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. We would like to extend our gratitude to the officers and crew of the CCGS Amundsen for their invaluable support during the expedition. We thank Dr. I. Bull and J. Williams from the University of Bristol for analyses of stable carbon isotopes by GC/C/IRMS. We are also grateful to Paul Renaud and two anonymous reviewers for making suggestions on improving the focus of this paper. This work is a contribution to the International Polar Year-Circumpolar Flaw Lead system study (IPY-CFL).


  1. Allard WG, Belt ST, Massé G, Naumann R, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2001) Tetra-unsaturated sesterterpenoids (Haslenes) from Haslea ostrearia and related species. Phytochemistry 56:795–800PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambrose WG, Renaud PE (1997) Does a pulsed food supply to the benthos affect polychaete recruitment patterns in the Northeast Water Polynya? J Mar Syst 10:483–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrews JT, Belt ST, Olafsdottir S, Massé G, Vare LL (2009) Sea ice and marine climate variability for NW Iceland/Denmark Strait over the last 2000 cal. yr BP. Holocene 19:775–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arrigo KR, Mock T, Lizotte MP (2010) Primary producers and sea ice. In: Thomas DN, Dieckmann GS (eds) Sea ice: second edition. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 283–325Google Scholar
  5. Belt ST, Cooke DA, Robert JM (1996) Structural characterisation of widespread polyunsaturated isoprenoid biomarkers: a C25 triene, tetraene and pentaene from the diatom Haslea ostrearia simonsen. Tetrahedron Lett 37:4755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Belt ST, Allard WG, Massé G, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2000) Important sedimentary sesterterpenoids from the diatom Pleurosigma intermedium. Chem Commun 501–502Google Scholar
  7. Belt ST, Allard WG, Massé G, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2001a) Structural characterisation of C30 highly branched isoprenoid alkenes (rhizenes) in the marine diatom Rhizosolenia setigera. Tetrahedron Lett 42:5583–5585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Belt ST, Massé G, Allard WG, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2001b) C25 highly branched isoprenoid alkenes in planktonic diatoms of the Pleurosigma genus. Org Geochem 32:1271–1275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Belt ST, Massé G, Allard WG, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2001c) Identification of a C25 highly branched isoprenoid triene in the freshwater diatom Navicula sclesvicensis. Org Geochem 32:1169–1172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Belt ST, Massé G, Allard WG, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (2002) Effects of auxosporulation on distributions of C25 and C30 isoprenoids alkenes in Rhizosolenia setigera. Phytochemistry 59:141–148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Belt ST, Massé G, Rowland SJ, Poulin M, Michel C, LeBlanc B (2007) A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25. Org Geochem 38:16–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Belt ST, Massé G, Vare LL, Rowland SJ, Poulin M, Sicre M-A, Sampei M, Fortier L (2008) Distinctive 13C isotopic signature distinguishes a novel sea ice biomarker in Arctic sediments and sediment traps. Mar Chem 112:158–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Belt ST, Vare LL, Massé G, Manners H, Price J, MacLachlan S, Andrews JT, Schmidt S (2010) Striking similarities in temporal changes to seasonal sea ice conditions across the central Canadian Arctic Archipelago during the last 7, 000 years. Quat Sci Rev 29:3489–3504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown T, Belt ST, Philippe B, Mundy CJ, Massé G, Poulin M, Gosselin M (2011) Temporal and vertical variations of lipid biomarkers during a bottom ice diatom bloom in the Canadian Beaufort Sea: further evidence for the use of the IP25 biomarker as a proxy for spring Arctic sea ice. Polar Biol. doi: 10.1007/s00300-010-0942-5
  15. Carroll ML, Carroll J (2003) The Arctic seas. In: Black KD, Shimmield GB (eds) Biogeochemistry of marine systems. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 126–156Google Scholar
  16. Cota GF (1985) Photoadaptation of high Arctic ice algae. Nature 315:219–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dieckmann GS, Hellmer HH (2010) The importance of sea ice: an overview. In: Thomas D, Dieckmann S (eds) Sea ice (second edition). Blackwell, Chichester, pp 1–22Google Scholar
  18. Falk-Petersen S, Haug T, Hop H, Nilssen KT, Wold A (2009) Transfer of lipids from plankton to blubber of harp and hooded seals off East Greenland. Deep Sea Res Pt II 56:2080–2086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. France RL (1995) Carbon-13 enrichment in benthic compared to planktonic algae: foodweb implications. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 124:307–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fry B, Wainright SC (1991) Diatom sources of 13C-rich carbon in marine food webs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 76:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gosselin M, Levasseur M, Wheeler PA, Horner RA, Booth BC (1997) New measurements of phytoplankton and ice algal production in the Arctic Ocean. Deep Sea Res Pt II 44:1623–1644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hobson KA, Welch HE (1992) Determination of trophic relationships within a high Arctic marine food web using δ13C and δ15N analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 84:9–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hobson KA, Ambrose WG Jr, Renaud PE (1995) Sources of primary production, benthic-pelagic coupling, and trophic relationships within the Northeast Water Polynya: insights from δ13C and δ15N analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 128:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johns L, Wraige EJ, Belt ST, Lewis CA, Massé G, Robert JM, Rowland SJ (1999) Identification of a C25 highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) diene in Antarctic sediments, Antarctic sea-ice diatoms and cultured diatoms. Org Geochem 30:1471–1475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Legendre L, Ackley S, Diekmann G, Gulliksen B, Horner R, Hoshiai T, Melnikov I, Reeburgh W, Spindler M, Sullivan C (1992) Ecology of sea ice biota 2. Global significance. Polar Biol 12:429–444Google Scholar
  26. Lovvorn JR, Cooper LW, Brooks ML, De Ruyck CC, Bump JK, Grebmeier JM (2005) Organic matter pathways to zooplankton and benthos under pack ice in late winter and open water in late summer in the north-central Bering Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 291:135–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Massé G, Belt ST, Allard GW, Lewis CA, Wakeham SG, Rowland SJ (2004) Occurrence of novel monocyclic alkenes from diatoms in marine particulate matter and sediments. Org Geochem 35:813–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Massé G, Rowland SJ, Sicre M-A, Jacob J, Jansen E, Belt ST (2008) Abrupt climate changes for Iceland during the last millennium: evidence from high resolution sea ice reconstructions. Earth Planet Sci Lett 269:565–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McMahon KW, Ambrose WG Jr, Johnson BJ, Yi Sun M, Lopez GR, Clough LM, Carroll ML (2006) Benthic community response to ice algae and phytoplankton in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 310:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Morata N, Poulin M, Renaud PE (2010) A multiple biomarker approach to tracking the fate of an ice algal bloom to the sea floor. Polar Biol 34:101–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Müller J, Massé G, Stein R, Belt ST (2009) Variability of sea-ice conditions in the Fram Strait over the past 30,000 years. Nat Geosci 2:772–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mundy CJ, Barber DG, Michel C (2005) Variability of snow and ice thermal, physical and optical properties pertinent to sea ice algae biomass during spring. J Mar Syst 58:107–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mundy CJ, Gosselin M, Ehn J, Gratton Y, Rossnagel A, Barber DG, Martin J, Tremblay J-E, Palmer M, Arrigo KR, Darnis Gr, Fortier L, Else B, Papakyriakou T (2009) Contribution of under-ice primary production to an ice-edge upwelling phytoplankton bloom in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Geophys Res Lett 36. doi: 10.1029/2009gl038837
  34. Nichols PD, Palmisano AC, Volkman JK, Smith GA, White DC (1988) Occurrence of an isoprenoid C25 diunsaturated alkene and high neutral lipid content in Antarctic sea-ice diatom communities. J Phycol 24:90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Piepenburg D (2005) Recent research on Arctic benthos: common notions need to be revised. Polar Biol 28:733–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reuss N, Poulsen LK (2002) Evaluation of fatty acids as biomarkers for a natural plankton community. A field study of a spring bloom and a post-bloom period off West Greenland. Mar Biol 141:423–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rontani J-F, Belt ST, Vaultier F, Brown TA (2011) Visible light induced photo-oxidation of highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) alkenes: significant dependence on number and nature of double bonds. Org Geochem. doi: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2011.04.013
  38. Rowland SJ, Belt ST, Wraige EJ, Masse G, Roussakis C, Robert JM (2001) Effects of temperature on polyunsaturation in cytostatic lipids of Haslea ostrearia. Phytochemistry 56:597–602PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Różanska M, Gosselin M, Poulin M, Wiktor JM, Michel C (2009) Influence of environmental factors on the development of bottom ice protist communities during the winter-spring transition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 386:43–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sakshaug E (2004) Primary and secondary production the Arctic Seas. In: Stein R, Macdonald RW (eds) The organic carbon cycle in the Arctic Ocean. Springer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Sinninghe Damsté JS, Schouten S, Rijpstra WIC, Hopmans EC, Peletier H, Gieskes WWC, Geenevasen JAJ (1999) Structural identification of the C25 highly branched isoprenoid pentaene in the marine diatom Rhizosolenia setigera. Org Geochem 30:1581–1583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tamelander T, Kivimäe C, Bellerby RGJ, Renaud PE, Kristiansen S (2009) Base-line variations in stable isotope values in an Arctic marine ecosystem: effects of carbon and nitrogen uptake by phytoplankton. Hydrobiologia 630:63–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tiselius P, Kuylenstierna B (1996) Growth and decline of a diatom spring bloom phytoplankton species composition, formation of marine snow and the role of heterotrophic dinoflagellates. J Plankton Res 18:133–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vare LL, Massé G, Gregory TR, Smart CW, Belt ST (2009) Sea ice variations in the central Canadian Arctic Archipelago during the Holocene. Quat Sci Rev 28:1354–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vare LL, Massé G, Belt ST (2010) A biomarker-based reconstruction of sea ice conditions for the Barents Sea in recent centuries. Holocene 20:637–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Volkman JK, Barrett SM, Dunstan GA (1994) C25 and C30 highly branched isoprenoid alkenes in laboratory cultures of two marine diatoms. Org Geochem 21:407–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wassmann P, Andreassen I, Reigstad M, Slagstad D (1996) Pelagic-benthic coupling in the Nordic Seas: the role of episodic events. Mar Ecol 17:447–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wraige EJ, Johns L, Belt S, Massé G, Robert J-M, Rowland S (1999) Highly branched C25 isoprenoids in axenic cultures of Haslea ostrearia. Phytochemistry 51:69–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biogeochemistry Research Centre, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of PlymouthDrake Circus, Plymouth, DevonUK

Personalised recommendations