Marine Biology

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 363–372 | Cite as

An experimental study of the effect of diet on the fatty acid profiles of the European Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

  • Miriam FluckigerEmail author
  • George D. Jackson
  • Peter Nichols
  • Patti Virtue
  • Adam Daw
  • Simon Wotherspoon
Research Article


Fatty acid analysis is an alternative dietary investigation tool that complements the more traditional techniques of stomach content and faecal analysis that are often subject to a wide range of biases. In applying fatty acid analysis to ecosystem studies, it is important to have an understanding of the effect diet has on the fatty acid profile of the predator. A feeding experiment, using crustacean and fish as prey for the European cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, was conducted to evaluate the effect of prey fatty acids on the fatty acid profile of this marine predator. Cuttlefish were fed on a fish diet for the first 29 days, and then changed to a crustacean diet for a further 28 days. Another group of cuttlefish was fed on a crustacean diet for the first 29 days, and then changed to a fish diet for a further 28 days. An analysis of the cuttlefish digestive gland showed that the fatty acid profile reflected that of the prey, with cuttlefish on a crustacean diet being clearly distinguishable from the cuttlefish on a fish diet. Cuttlefish fed on a fish diet for 29 days prior to the switch in diet were comparatively higher in 16:0, AA, 20:1ω9, DPA6, DHA, 22:4ω6 and DPA3 than those fed on crustaceans. Cuttlefish fed on a crustacean diet for 29 days prior to the switch in diet were comparatively higher in 17:1ω8, 18:1ω9, 18:2ω6, 18:1ω7, EPA and 20:2ω6 than those fed on fish. Following a change in diet, the fatty acid profile of the cuttlefish digestive gland reflected that of the new diet within 14 days. The results confirm that the fatty acid profile of the cuttlefish digestive gland clearly reflects the profile of its recent diet. It also shows that the digestive gland may not be an organ that accumulates dietary lipids for long-term storage, but rather is an organ where lipids are rapidly being turned over and potentially excreted.


Fatty Acid Profile Digestive Gland Dietary Lipid Fish Diet Fish Prey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was made possible by the funding from the Hermon Slade foundation with a grant awarded to G.D. Jackson. We are thankful for the National Resource Centre for Cephalopods who provided the excellent facilities for conducting this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Fluckiger
    • 1
    Email author
  • George D. Jackson
    • 1
  • Peter Nichols
    • 2
    • 3
  • Patti Virtue
    • 1
  • Adam Daw
    • 4
    • 5
  • Simon Wotherspoon
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Antarctic and Climate Ecosystems CRCHobartAustralia
  4. 4.National Resource Centre for Cephalopods, Marine Biomedical InstituteUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  5. 5.USC Wrigley Marine Science CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaAvalonUSA
  6. 6.School of Mathematics and PhysicsUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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