MEPS 253:217-232 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps253217

Influence of tropho-climatic environment and reproduction on lipid composition of the euphausiid Meganyctiphanes norvegica in the Ligurian Sea, the Clyde Sea and the Kattegat

Eric Albessard, Patrick Mayzaud*

Observatoire Océanologique, Océanographie Biochimique et Ecologie, Laboratoire Océanographique de Villefranche, LOV-UMR 7093, BP 28, 06230 Villefranche sur Mer, France
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Lipid content and lipid-class distribution in the northern krill Meganyctiphanes norvegica (M. Sars, 1857) was investigated in 3 contrasting (in terms of climatic and trophic conditions) areas: the Ligurian Sea, the Clyde Sea and the Kattegat. Seasonal differences in the lipid content of krill were closely related to food supply coupled with the krill reproductive state in both the Ligurian Sea and in the Clyde Sea. In the Kattegat, the lipid reserves of reproductive krill were low and probably used continuously over a longer reproduction period and successive spawning cycles. In the Ligurian and Clyde Seas, female krill lost 55 and 33% of their cephalothorax (CT) lipids through spawning. The content of triacylglycerol (TAG) and phosphatidylcholine (PC), both major lipids in the CT, were higher when food conditions were optimal at the 3 sites, and were correlated to chlorophyll a (chl a) concentration in the Ligurian and Clyde Seas. The influence of reproduction on lipid-class distribution in the Clyde and Ligurian Seas was expressed by a large decrease in PC and TAG throughout spawning, while in the Kattegat PC and TAG levels were low irrespective of the reproductive state. The relative influence of environmental and physiological factors on the lipid distribution of krill in the CT and abdomen (AB) among the 3 locations was evaluated using principal components analysis. In the CT, TAG and PC along with minor lipids were major discriminating factors and were strongly correlated to total lipid content and chl a concentrations. For reproducive krill, marked differences in the CT and AB indicated covariation between reproduction and trophic conditions. The influence of the physical environment on M. norvegica at sexual rest found expression in variation in the membrane lipids in the AB across the different temperature and salinity regimes at the 3 sites. The results are discussed in terms of adaptive mechanisms involving lipid distribution and metabolism developed by the species.


KEY WORDS: Krill · Lipids · Adaptation · Reproduction · Trophic environment · Triacylglycerol · Phospholipids · Meganyctiphanes norvegica · Temperature · Salinity


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