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Composition, assimilation and degradation of Phaeocystis globosa-derived fatty acids in the North Sea
Hamm, C.E.; Rousseau, V. (2003). Composition, assimilation and degradation of Phaeocystis globosa-derived fatty acids in the North Sea. J. Sea Res. 50(4): 271-283.
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 56827 [ OMA ]

Author keywords
    phytoplankton; Phaeocystis; trophic fate; degradation; fatty acids

Authors  Top 
  • Hamm, C.E.
  • Rousseau, V., more

    The fate of a Phaeocystis globosa bloom in the southern North Sea off Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany in May 1995 was investigated during a cruise with RV ‘Belgica’. We used fatty acids as biomarkers to follow the fate of Phaeocystis-derived biomass of a Phaeocystis-dominated spring bloom. The bloom, in which up to >99% of the biomass was contributed by Phaeocystis, showed a fatty acid composition with a characteristically high abundance of polyunsaturated C18-fatty acids, which increased in concentration with number of double bonds up to 18:5 (n-3), and high concentrations of 20:5 (n-3) and 22:6 (n-3). In contrast to most previous studies, fatty acid analysis of the mesozooplankton community (mainly calanoid copepods) and meroplankton (Carcinus maenas megalope) indicated that P. globosa was a major component (ca. 70% and 50%, respectively) in the diet of these organisms. Massive accumulations of amorphous grey aggregates, in which Phaeocystis colonies were major components, were dominated by saturated fatty acids and contained only few of the polyunsaturated C18-fatty acids. A hydrophobic surface slick that covered the water surface during the bloom showed very similar patterns. Foam patches contained few Phaeocystis-typical fatty acids, but increased amounts of diatom-typical compounds such as 16:1 (n-7) and 20:5 (n-3), and 38% fatty alcohols, indicating that wax esters dominated the lipid fraction in the foam with ca. 76% (w/w). The fatty acid compositions of surface sediment showed that no sedimentation of fresh Phaeocystis occurred during the study. The results indicate that Phaeocystis-derived organic matter degraded while floating or in suspension, and had not reached the sediment in substantial amounts.

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