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J Lipid Res. 1986 Mar;27(3):274-85.

Lipids of North Atlantic krill.


The seasonal variations in the total lipid content, lipid class composition, fatty acid composition, and fatty alcohol composition of Meganyctiphanes norvegica (M. Sars), Thysanoessa inermis (Krøyer), and T. raschii (M. Sars) have been examined. The total lipid content was highest in the autumn and early winter months and lowest in the spring. In M. norvegica, triacylglycerols served as the only depot lipids, whereas in T. inermis and T. raschii triacylglycerols, wax esters, and glycerophospholipids varied in proportion to the total lipid content. This suggests that glycerophospholipids, as well as wax esters and triacylglycerols, constitute depot lipids in these species. Wax esters and glycerophospholipids were the dominating depot lipids in T. inermis, whereas triacylglycerols and glycerophospholipids were most important in T. raschii. Results suggest that non-depot glycerophospholipids may constitute 3.5-4.5% of the dry weight of the three species of krill examined. T. inermis and T. raschii, from the same catches, had very similar fatty acid compositions for each of the major lipid classes, with the exception of a few minor fatty acids. The major lipid classes in all three species showed complex seasonal variations in the content of the fatty acids that typically reflect the diet, particularly in the case of the triacylglycerols. The results suggest that all the species examined are more herbivorous during the summer than during the autumn and winter. M. norvegica seemed to be significantly more carnivorous than the two Thysanoessa species. The degree of incorporation of individual fatty acids from the diet is probably specific for each lipid class in each krill species. The proportion of polyenoic fatty acids in the glycerophospholipids and the proportion of monoenoic fatty acids in the wax esters may be of importance for the temperature adaptation of T. inermis and T. raschii.

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