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Evaluation of fatty acids as biomarkers for a natural plankton community. A field study of a spring bloom and a post-bloom period off West Greenland


Evaluation of fatty acids as biomarkers for a natural plankton community. A field study of a spring bloom and a post-bloom period off West Greenland



Marine Biology (Berlin) 141(3): 423-434



ISSN/ISBN: 0025-3162

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-002-0841-6

An investigation of the fatty acid composition of a natural arctic plankton community was carried out over two fishing banks located between 63[degree]N and 65[degree]N off the West Greenland coast. Samples for fatty acid analyses, species determination and biomass assessments of the plankton community were taken at the depth of fluorescence maximum. High biomass and diatom dominance during the spring bloom and low biomass and flagellate dominance in the post-bloom period were reflected by the fatty acid profiles. The total amount of fatty acid ranged from 55 to 132 [mu]g l-1 during the spring bloom and from 1 to 5 [mu]g l-1 during the post bloom. Analysis of the fatty acids showed that when the plankton was dominated by diatoms of the genera Thalassiosira and Chaetoceros, the proportions of C16:1(n-7) and C20:5(n-3) were correspondingly high. C18s, and particularly C18:1(n-9), were more abundant when the plankton was dominated by small autotrophic flagellates, primarily haptophytes. We found a good positive correlation between the common diatom marker. C16:1(n-7)/C16:0, and the biomass percentage of diatoms (r = 0.742, P < 0.001), as well as between the biomass percentage of flagellates and total C18 fatty acids (r = 0.739, P < 0.001). This supports the use of these specific fatty acids and fatty acid ratios as general biomarkers of the plankton community. However, the fatty acids are not specific enough to sufficiently characterise the composition of the plankton community, and microscopical support is needed to verify observed trends.

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Accession: 010615744

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