Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 205–214 | Cite as

Degradation and dissolution of zooplanktonic organic matter and lipids in early diagenesis

Original Article


A degradation experiment with zooplankton was carried out to investigate the diagenesis of zooplanktonic organic matter, lipids, and lipid classes. In addition, reactivities and the quantitative relation between bulk organic carbon and waxes (which are the biomarkers of zooplankton) were compared during the experiment to evaluate the possibility of estimating the contributions of zooplanktonic organic matter in organic carbon pools, such as settling particles and surface sediments, from the wax concentration. Lipids were found to be more labile than the bulk organic carbon. Major parts of the organic carbon and lipids which remained on day 120 were found in the particulate fraction, and the accumulations of stable organic carbon and lipids in the dissolved fraction were limited. Although the lipids were more labile than the bulk organic carbon in the early phase of the experiment, the degradation rate of lipids obviously decreased in the subsequent degradation period, demonstrating the presence of stable lipids in zooplankton. Whereas triglycerides readily decreased, phospholipids persisted, making a major contribution to particulate lipids throughout the experiment. Waxes and other structural lipids such as glycolipids were also stably preserved in particulate lipids, suggesting that stable lipids in particulate matter are composed of structural lipids and waxes during early diagenesis. The degradation rate of waxes showed values comparable to that of bulk organic carbon after 11 days of degradation, resulting in constant ratios of waxes/bulk organic carbon (0.8 ± 0.2%, n = 7) during the later incubation period (after 11 days). This result suggests that the ratio could prove useful in evaluating the zooplanktonic organic carbon in organic carbon pools such as surface sediments and settling particulates.


Zooplankton Organic carbon Lipid Lipid class Bacterial degradation Early diagenesis Triglycerides Phospholipids Waxes 


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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