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Fatty acid and alcohol composition of the small polar copepods, Oithona and Oncaea: indication on feeding modes

Abstract

The fatty acid and alcohol compositions of the Antarctic copepods Oithona similis, Oncaea curvata, Oncaea antarctica and the Arctic Oncaea borealis were determined to provide the first data on their lipid biochemistry and to expand the present knowledge on their feeding modes and life-cycle strategies. All these tiny species contained high amounts of wax esters (on average 51.4–86.3% of total lipid), except females of Oithona similis (15.2%). The fatty-acid composition was clearly dominated by 18:1(n-9), especially in the wax-ester-rich Oncaea curvata (79.7% of total fatty acids). In all species, 16:0 and the polyunsaturated fatty acids 20:5(n-3) and 22:6(n-3), which are structural components of all membranes, occurred in significant proportions. The dominant fatty alcohols were 14:0 and 16:0. In Oncaea antarctica and Oncaea borealis, the 20:1(n-9) and 22:1(n-11) alcohols and, to a lesser extent, the corresponding fatty acids were also found in high proportions. This indicates carnivorous feeding, although de novo biosynthesis cannot be excluded. The variable composition might be due to a wider range of food items and parasitic feeding. Typical trophic marker fatty acids for phytoplankton ingestion occurred only in small amounts, which suggests that the species were feeding on particles such as detritus or aggregates and not on living phytoplankton. From the compositional data of fatty acids and alcohols, it can be concluded that feeding behaviour of all species is omnivorous and/or carnivorous.

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Acknowledgements

We thank E. Mizdalski for sorting the species. We are also grateful to the captain and crew of RV "Polarstern" for their professional support.

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Correspondence to G. Kattner.

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Kattner, G., Albers, C., Graeve, M. et al. Fatty acid and alcohol composition of the small polar copepods, Oithona and Oncaea: indication on feeding modes. Polar Biol 26, 666–671 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-003-0540-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-003-0540-x

Keywords

  • Phytoplankton
  • Fatty Alcohol
  • Calanoid Copepod
  • Small Copepod
  • Alcohol Composition