Wax ester composition influences the diapause patterns in the copepod Calanoides acutus
Many calanoid copepods inhabiting high latitude environments overwinter at depth in the water column in a state of diapause and the large wax ester reserves that they contain are central to this process. Here we compare the abundance, depth distribution, lipid content and wax ester composition of individual CV Calanoides acutus collected from the Southern Ocean at depth horizons ranging from the surface to 1000 m. Abundances of CV C. acutus varied considerably between locations, ranging from 44 to 1256 m−2. Levels of total lipid in the copepods increased with depth at a rate of around 100 μg per 100 m depth between 200 and 1000 m. Fatty acid composition of the wax esters reflected that of the local prey community, with a spectrum of diatom to flagellate dominated profiles corresponding to different microplankton environments. Copepods with highest levels of total lipid also contained highest levels of the highly unsaturated diatom fatty acid biomarker 20:5(n-3), and occupied the deepest depths during diapause. In addition, unsaturation levels of both the fatty acid and fatty alcohol moieties of the wax esters in the copepods increased with depth. This has implications for the buoyancy of these organisms: higher unsaturation makes the lipid likely to change from liquid to solid state at overwintering depths, increasing their specific gravity. These findings emphasise functional role of n-3 fatty acids in the diapause life-phase of calanoid copepods and in particular the importance of fatty acids from diatoms for overwintering.
Authors: Pond, David, Tarling, Geraint ORCID record for Geraint Tarling, Ward, Peter, Mayor, Daniel J. ORCID record for Daniel J. Mayor