Lipids in marine copepods: latitudinal characteristics and perspective to global warming



Marine zooplankton represent a very diverse group in the world’s oceans, with numerous taxa of high abundance and biomass. Many of these zooplankton species, especially the dominating copepods, are able to accumulate large reserves of energy-rich lipids, exhibiting some of the highest lipid levels in organisms on earth. Their unusual way to store these lipids, namely as wax esters, is another particularity of many zooplankton species. It is generally accepted that wax esters serve as long-term metabolic reserves, whereas triacylglycerols are utilized for short-term demands, although the physiological advantage of wax esters as long-term deposits over triacylglycerols is still unclear. The geographical distribution of wax esters in marine zooplankton was first studied in detail by Lee and co-authors in the 1970s (Lee et al. 1971; Lee and Hirota 1973). They showed that especially herbivorous calanoid copepods from habitats with a marked seasonality intensely synthesize wax esters, which in many herbivorous species consist, to a large degree, of specific long-chain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and alcohols (reviewed by Sargent and Henderson 1986; Dalsgaard et al. 2003; Lee et al. 2006).


Essential Fatty Acid Zooplankton Species Calanoid Copepod Copepod Species Spring Phytoplankton Bloom 



We are grateful to Sigrid Schnack-Schiel for her constructive support and her expertise in copepod biology. We thank Martin Graeve for helpful comments and sharing unpublished lipid data.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Ecological ChemistryBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Marine ZoologyFaculty of Biology/Chemistry, University of BremenGermany

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