MEPS 157:221-231 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps157221

Lipid and lipid carbon stable isotope composition of the hydrothermal vent shrimp Mirocaris fortunata: evidence for nutritional dependence on photosynthetically fixed carbon

David W. Pond1,2,*, Michel Segonzac3, Michael V. Bell1, David R. Dixon2, Anthony E. Fallick4, John R. Sargent1

1NERC Unit of Aquatic Biochemistry, Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences, University of Stirling,
Stirling FK9 4LA, United Kingdom
2Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, Plymouth PL1 3DH, United Kingdom
3IFREMER, BP 70, F-29280 Plouzané, Brest, France
4Isotope Geosciences Unit, SURRC, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 0QF, United Kingdom

Mirocaris fortunata were sampled from the Lucky Strike hydrothermal vent area (Eiffel Tower site) on the mid-Atlantic ridge during the French DIVA 2 cruise (June 1994). Small adults (17 to 22 mm total length), although morphologically identical, could be divided into 2 categories on the basis of pigmentation, lipid composition and 13C/12C stable isotope ratios of fatty acids. Highly pigmented small adults (8.6 to 9.2 µg carotenoid shrimp-1) contained higher levels of total lipid than similar-sized individuals containing lower levels of pigment (0.9 to 2.9 µg carotenoid shrimp-1). Lipid class analysis indicated that wax esters comprised 62.5% of total lipid in the former group. These pigmented shrimp also contained high proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly the phototrophic microplanktonic markers 20:5(n-3) and 22:6(n-3) (14.0 and 33.5% respectively). By contrast small adults (22 mm) and adult shrimp (25 to 26 mm) with low levels of carotenoid pigmentation contained lower amounts of total lipid, little or no wax ester and low levels of 20:5(n-3) and 22:6(n-3), but did contain 16:2(n-4) and 18:2(n-4) and the non-methylene interrupted dienes 20:2Delta5,13 and 22:2Delta7,15. GC-IRMS analysis of all fatty acids and fatty alcohols in the pigmented small adults indicated delta13C values of -18.2 to -27.7o/oo, which is consistent with a photosynthetic carbon source for these compounds. The 13C/12C isotope composition of fatty acids from low-pigmented small adults and adults was more variable (-12.5 to -33.1o/oo) and suggests a bimodal distribution which may be attributable to differing nutritional sources or the physiological/reproductive status of these shrimp. Samples of eggs, which are carried by the female on the pleopods, represented approximately 57% of total somatic lipid which indicates a substantial reproductive investment by this species. The egg lipids comprised high proportions of triacylglycerols (64.4 to 78.0% of total lipid) whilst the fatty acid composition was dominated by the monounsaturated fatty acids 16:1(n-7), 18:1(n-7) and 18:1(n-9), which accounted for 65.7 to 73.5% of total fatty acids. By contrast, PUFA were relatively minor components of egg lipids, particularly 20:5(n-3) and 22:6(n-3), which accounted for only 1.1 and 2.9% of total egg fatty acids respectively. This indicates that the reproductive investment by this species is supported mainly by material derived from bacterial chemosynthesis. The potential for M. fortunata hedge betting by producing larvae which either metamorphose at the vent site or adopt a bathypelagic lifestyle and delay metamorphosis to facilitate more widespread dispersal is discussed.

Mirocaris fortunata · Lipid · Stable isotope · Hedge betting

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