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Separation of phytoplanktonic pigments by HPLC for the study of phyto-zooplankton trophic relationships

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Phyto-zooplankton trophic relationships were studied using phytoplanktonic pigments (chlorophylls and carotenoids) as organic natural markers. Pigments were separated by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Comparison of pigment profiles from monospecific cultures of various taxonomic groups (Chlorophyceae, Bacillariophyceae and Cyanobacteria) and from Cladocera crustaceans (Daphnia magna) fed with these cultures, showed that the characteristic pigment associations of the different taxa are conserved during their transfer from primary producers to secondary consumers.

Chromatographic profiles of the Bacillariophyceae and Chlorophyceae type were obtained fromDaphnia respectively fed with mixtures of a Chlorophyceae and a diatom species and mixture of a Chlorophyceae and a Cyanobacterium. This showed the importance of this method in demonstrating a possible selective feeding by the herbivorous zooplankton.

The observation of pigment profiles of the Dinophyceae type following feeding of a zooplankton assemblage from Lake Pavin within this natural medium (phytoplankton dominated by a Dinophyceae) and of a Chlorophyceae type profile as the same assemblage was fed in the laboratory on phytoplankton from Lake Villerest (composed of about 80% Cyanobacteria and 20% Chlorophyceae), suggested that this method could be applied to the natural environment.

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Quiblier, C., Bourdier, G., Amblard, C. et al. Separation of phytoplanktonic pigments by HPLC for the study of phyto-zooplankton trophic relationships. Aquatic Science 56, 29–39 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00877433

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Key words

  • Trophic relationships
  • organic biomarkers
  • herbivorous zooplankton
  • phytoplanktonic pigments
  • HPLC