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Integr Comp Biol. 2014 Nov;54(5):890-902. doi: 10.1093/icb/icu106. Epub 2014 Aug 6.

Amino acid δ13C analysis shows flexibility in the routing of dietary protein and lipids to the tissue of an omnivore.

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  • 1*Biology Department, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA; Environment and Natural Resource Institute, University of Alaska-Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA; Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; and School of Natural Sciences, University of California-Merced, Merced, CA 95343, USA newsome@unm.edu.
  • 2*Biology Department, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA; Environment and Natural Resource Institute, University of Alaska-Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA; Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; and School of Natural Sciences, University of California-Merced, Merced, CA 95343, USA.

Abstract

Stable-isotope analysis (SIA) has revolutionized animal ecology by providing time-integrated estimates of the use of resources and/or habitats. SIA is based on the premise that the isotopic composition of a consumer's tissues originates from its food, but is offset by trophic-discrimination (enrichment) factors controlled by metabolic processes associated with the assimilation of nutrients and the biosynthesis of tissues. Laboratory preparation protocols dictate that tissues both of consumers and of their potential prey be lipid-extracted prior to analysis, because (1) lipids have carbon isotope (δ(13)C) values that are lower by approximately 3-8‰ than associated proteins and (2) amino acids in consumers' proteinaceous tissues are assumed to be completely routed from dietary protein. In contrast, models of stable-isotope mixing assume that dietary macromolecules are broken into their elemental constituents from which non-essential amino acids are resynthesized to build tissues. Here, we show that carbon from non-protein dietary macromolecules, namely lipids, was used to synthesize muscle tissue in an omnivorous rodent (Mus musculus). We traced the influence of dietary lipids on the synthesis of consumers' tissues by inversely varying the dietary proportion of C4-based lipids and C3-based protein while keeping carbohydrate content constant in four dietary treatments, and analyzing the δ(13)C values of amino acids in mouse muscle after 4 months of feeding. The influence of dietary lipids on non-essential amino acids varied as function of biosynthetic pathway. The source of carbon in ketogenic amino acids synthesized through the Krebs cycle was highly sensitive to dietary lipid content, with significant increases of approximately 2-4‰ in Glutamate and Aspartate δ(13)C values from the 5% to 15% dietary lipid treatment. Glucogenic amino acids (Glycine and Serine) were less sensitive to dietary lipid, but increased by approximately 3-4‰ from the 25% to 40% lipid diet. As expected, the δ(13)C values of essential amino acids did not vary significantly among diets. Although lipids provide a calorie-rich resource that fuels energy requirements, our results show that they also can be an important elemental source of carbon that contributes to the non-essential amino acids used to build structural tissue like muscle. As such, the calculation of trophic-discrimination factors for animals that consume a lipid-rich diet should consider lipid carbon as a building block for proteinaceous tissues. Careful consideration of the macromolecular composition in the diet of the consumer of interest will help to further refine the use of SIA to study animal ecology and physiology.

PMID:
25104856
DOI:
10.1093/icb/icu106
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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