A1 Journal article (refereed)
Hydrogen isotopes (δ2H) of polyunsaturated fatty acids track bioconversion by zooplankton (2022)

Pilecky, M., Kämmer, S. K., Mathieu‐Resuge, M., Wassenaar, L. I., Taipale, S. J., Martin‐Creuzburg, D., & Kainz, M. J. (2022). Hydrogen isotopes (δ2H) of polyunsaturated fatty acids track bioconversion by zooplankton. Functional Ecology, 36(3), 538-549. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13981

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsPilecky, Matthias; Kämmer, Samuel K.; Mathieu‐Resuge, Margaux; Wassenaar, Leonard I.; Taipale, Sami J.; Martin‐Creuzburg, Dominik; Kainz, Martin J.

Journal or seriesFunctional Ecology



Publication year2022

Publication date08/12/2021


Issue number3

Pages range538-549


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/79187


1. Organisms at the base of aquatic food webs synthesize essential nutrients, such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), which are transferred to consumers at higher trophic levels. Many consumers, requiring n-3 long-chain (LC) PUFA, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have limited ability to biosynthesize them from the essential dietary precursor α-linolenic acid (ALA) and thus rely on dietary provision of LC-PUFA.
2. We investigated LC-PUFA metabolism in freshwater zooplankton using stable hydrogen isotopes (δ2H) of fatty acids as tracers. We conducted feeding experiments with the freshwater keystone grazer Daphnia to quantify changes in the δ2H value of body FA in response to the FA composition of their food and the δ2H value of the ambient water.
3. The isotopic composition of LC-PUFA changed in Daphnia, depending on the integration of 2H from ambient water during de novo synthesis or bioconversion from dietary precursors, allowing us to distinguish dietary from bioconverted EPA in body tissue. We tested the applicability of these laboratory findings in a field setting by analyzing δ2H values of PUFA in primary producers and consumers in eutrophic ponds to track EPA sources of zooplankton.
4. Multilinear regression models that included conversion of ALA to EPA correlated better with zooplankton δ2HEPA than seston δ2HEPA at low dietary EPA supply.
5. This study provides evidence that zooplankton can compensate for low dietary EPA supply by activating LC-PUFA biosynthesis and shows that herbivorous zooplankton play a crucial role in upgrading FA for higher trophic levels during low dietary EPA supply.

Keywordsaquatic ecosystemseutrophicationfood websplanktonCladoceraecophysiologynutrients (animals and humans)fatty acidsisotope analysis

Free keywordsbioconversion; compound-specific stable isotopes; Daphnia magna; deuterium; ecophysiology; essential fatty acids; eutrophication; GC-IRMS; trophic ecology; trophic upgrading; zooplankton

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 17:35