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Astaxanthin production in marine pelagic copepods grazing on two different phytoplankton diets
van Nieuwerburgh, L.; Wänstrand, I.; Liu, J.; Snoeijs, P. (2005). Astaxanthin production in marine pelagic copepods grazing on two different phytoplankton diets. J. Sea Res. 53(3): 147-160. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2004.07.003
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Antioxidants; Carotenoids; Diets; Eutrophication; Food webs; Mesocosms; Copepoda [WoRMS]; ANE, Norway [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • van Nieuwerburgh, L.
  • Wänstrand, I.
  • Liu, J.
  • Snoeijs, P., correspondent

Abstract
    The red carotenoid astaxanthin is a powerful natural antioxidant of great importance in aquatic food webs where it is abundant in eggs and body tissues of fish and crustaceans. Little is known about the impact of the phytoplankton diet on astaxanthin production in copepods, its major pelagic producers. We followed the transfer of carotenoids from phytoplankton to copepods in a mesocosm experiment on the northern Atlantic coast (Norway) and recorded the astaxanthin production in copepods. Wild copepods grazed on nutrient-manipulated phytoplankton blooms, which differed in community composition and nutrient status (nitrogen or silicate limitation). The copepod pigments consisted mainly of free astaxanthin and mono- and diesters of astaxanthin. We found no significant difference in astaxanthin production per copepod individual or per unit C depending on the phytoplankton community. However, in the mesocosms astaxanthin per unit C decreased compared with natural levels, probably through a lower demand for photoprotection by the copepods in the dense phytoplankton blooms. The total astaxanthin production per litre was higher in the silicate-limited mesocosms through increased copepod density. Pigment ratio comparisons suggested that the copepod diet here consisted more of diatoms than in the nitrogen-limited mesocosms. Silicate-saturated diatoms were less grazed, possibly because they could invest more in defence mechanisms against their predators. Our study suggests that the production of astaxanthin in aquatic systems can be affected by changes in nutrient dynamics mediated by phytoplankton community composition and copepod population growth. This bottom-up force may have implications for antioxidant protection at higher trophic levels in the food web.

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