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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 71:165-178 (2013)  -  DOI:

Fatty acid composition as biomarkers of freshwater microalgae: analysis of 37 strains of microalgae in 22 genera and in seven classes

Sami Taipale1,*, Ursula Strandberg2, Elina Peltomaa3, Aaron W. E. Galloway4, Anne Ojala3, Michael T. Brett

1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PL 35 (YA), 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
2Department of Biology, University of Eastern Finland, Box 111, 80101 Joensuu, Finland
3Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140 Lahti, Finland
4Friday Harbor Laboratories, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 620 University Rd, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250, USA
5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Box 352700, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-27000, USA

ABSTRACT: The fatty acid (FA) composition of algae is an important determinant of their food quality for consumers, and FAs can also be used as biomarkers for biochemical and energetic pathways in food webs. FA analyses of 7 freshwater algal classes and 37 strains showed clear similarity within classes and strong differences amongst classes. Class was a dominant factor (66.4%) explaining variation in FA signatures of microalgae. The 7 algal classes comprised 4 separate groups according to their FA profiles: (1) Chlorophyceae and Trebouxiophyceae, (2) Bacillariophyceae, (3) Cryptophyceae, Chrysophyceae, and Raphidophyceae, and (4) Euglenophyceae. Each group had a characteristic FA composition, although the proportional abundance of individual FAs also differed between species and with environmental conditions. FAs found to be particularly representative for each group (i.e. diagnostic biomarkers) were as follows: 16:4ω3 and 16:3ω3 for Chlorophyceae and Trebouxiophyceae; 16:2ω7, 16:2ω4, 16:3ω4, 16:4ω1, and 18:4ω4 for Bacillariophyceae; 22:5ω6 and 18:4ω3 for Cryptophyceae and Chrysophyceae (Synurales), 16:3ω1 for Chrysophyceae (Ochromonadales), 16:2ω4, 16:3ω4, 16:3ω1, and 20:3ω3 for Raphidophyceae; and 15:4ω2, 20:4ω3, 20:2ω6, 20:3ω6, and 22:4ω6 for Euglenophyceae. FAs thus offer a powerful tool to track different consumer diets in a lacustrine food web. Based on the 20:5ω3 (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 22:6ω3 (docosahexaenoic acid) content among the investigated freshwater algal classes, Chlorophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, and Chrysophyceae are of intermediate food quality for zooplankton, and Cryptophyceae, Bacillariophyceae, Euglenophyceae, and Raphidophyceae should be excellent resources for zooplankton.

KEY WORDS: Lipids · Diet quality · Omega-3 fatty acids · Lacustrine food web · Green algae · Diatoms · Cryptomonads

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Cite this article as: Taipale S, Strandberg U, Peltomaa E, Galloway AWE, Ojala A, Brett MT (2013) Fatty acid composition as biomarkers of freshwater microalgae: analysis of 37 strains of microalgae in 22 genera and in seven classes. Aquat Microb Ecol 71:165-178.

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