Preliminary estimates of the export of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (EPA+DHA) from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems

  • M.I. Gladyshev
  • M.T. Arts
  • N.N. Sushchik


In recent decades polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have come to be recognized as compounds with considerable physiological importance for animals at all taxonomic levels, including humans. Animals do not have the enzymes necessary to insert double bonds in fatty acid molecules in positions closer than the 7th carbon (designated n-7 or ω7) from the methyl end of the molecule; therefore, 18-carbon-long PUFA such as linoleic acid (LIN; 18:2n-6) and α-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3) are essential dietary nutrients (Fig. 8.1). These two essential PUFA are primarily synthesized by plants (both vascular plants and algae) and by some fungi (Fig. 8.1). These PUFA are the biochemical precursors of the most physiologically active PUFA: arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n-6), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3). Higher plants cannot desaturate and elongate ALA to EPA and DHA; however, many algae can perform these reactions (Fig. 8.1, and see Sect. 8.2 for details).


Aquatic Ecosystem Terrestrial Ecosystem Aquatic Insect Pacific Salmon Terrestrial Animal 
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.



The authors are grateful to Dan Baumgardt (Science and Operations Officer, National Weather Service, La Crosse, Wisconsin) for providing the Doppler radar images of mayfly emergence from the upper headwaters of the Mississippi River. The work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Krasnoyarsk Science Foundation grant # 07-04-96803-r_yenisei and by RFBR grant # 07-05-00076 (M.I.G. and N.N.S) and by the National Water Research Institute, Environment Canada (M.T.A.). We are grateful to Drs. M. Kainz and M.T. Brett for useful comments on previous drafts of this chapter and to our anonymous reviewer whose insightful comments greatly improved our chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of BiophysicsSiberian Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesKrasnoyarskRussia
  2. 2.National Water Research InstituteEnvironmentCanadaOntario Canada
  3. 3.Institute of BiophysicsSiberian Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesKrasnoyarskRussia

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