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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 728:75-80 (2024)  -  DOI:

Long-term storage at –20°C compromises fatty acid composition of polar bear adipose biopsies

Rose M. Lacombe1, Todd C. Atwood2, Elizabeth Peacock2, Anaïs Remili1, Rune Dietz3, Christian Sonne3, Melissa A. McKinney1,*

1Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
2United States Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA
3Department of Ecoscience, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This study aimed to gain insight into the influence of storage time and temperature on fatty acid (FA) signatures of biopsies of marine mammal adipose/blubber tissues. To examine storage effects, biopsy-type slices from larger pieces of adipose tissues from 2 polar bears Ursus maritimus were stored at either -20 or -80°C and subsequently analyzed for fatty acid composition initially (before storage), after 4 yr, and after 9 yr. At -20°C, after both 4 and 9 yr, proportions of polyunsaturated FAs significantly decreased, and proportions of monounsaturated FAs increased. Proportions of saturated FAs significantly increased only after 9 yr at -20°C in samples of 1 individual. After 4 and 9 yr of storage at -80°C, proportions of the 3 FA classes did not significantly change overall. Intra-individual differences in FA proportions increased over time in -20°C conditions, further pointing to biases stemming from inadequate storage conditions. These findings support the need to store biopsied fatty tissues (or other similarly thin and/or small adipose/blubber samples) at or below -80°C to adequately preserve FA signatures in samples over time for retrospective applications such as dietary studies.

KEY WORDS: Blubber · Polyunsaturated fatty acids · PUFA · Degradation · Frozen storage · Ursus maritimus · Feeding ecology · Diet · Marine mammal

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Cite this article as: Lacombe RM, Atwood TC, Peacock E, Remili A, Dietz R, Sonne C, McKinney MA (2024) Long-term storage at –20°C compromises fatty acid composition of polar bear adipose biopsies. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 728:75-80.

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