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Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment Increases Fatty Acids in Larval Fish

Paper Reviewed
Diaz-Gil, C., Catalan, I.A., Palmer, M., Faulk, C.K. and Fuiman, L.A. 2015. Ocean acidification increases fatty acid levels of larval fish. Biology Letters 11: 2015.0331.

Introducing their study, Diaz-Gil et al. (2015) write that fatty acids (FAs) "are biomolecules that are structural components of cell membranes, metabolized for energy, or stored for future use," but they say that "most animals cannot synthesize de novo enough of the long-chain FAs that contain multiple double bonds to meet their physiological requirements," citing Brett and Muller-Navarra (1997). And for that reason, they say that highly unsaturated FAs "are manufactured by primary producers" and that other animals "obtain them almost exclusively from their diet." And that is why they say "they are known as essential FAs (EFAs)," citing Tocher (2003).

Desirous to "test the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on the FA composition of fish," the five researchers went on to conduct "a replicated experiment in which larvae of the marine fish red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) were reared under a climate change scenario of elevated CO2 levels (2100 µatm) and under current control levels (400 µatm)." And in doing so, they observed "significantly higher whole-body levels of FAs, including nine of the eleven EFAs, and altered relative proportions of FAs in the larvae reared under higher levels of CO2."

Commenting on the consequences of their findings, Diaz-Gil et al. suggest that these effects of ocean acidification could lead to "alterations in performance and survival of fish larvae and transfer of FAs through food webs," which could help still other forms of marine life in still other ways.

Brett, M.T. and Muller-Navarra, D.C. 1997. The role of highly unsaturated fatty acids in aquatic foodweb processes. Freshwater Biology 38: 483-499.

Tocher, D.R. 2003. Metabolism and functions of lipids and fatty acids in teleost fish. Reviews in Fisheries Science 11: 107-184.

Posted 26 January 2016