A1 Journal article (refereed)
The second life of terrestrial and plastic carbon as nutritionally valuable food for aquatic consumers (2023)

Taipale, S. J., Rigaud, C., Calderini, M. L., Kainz, M. J., Pilecky, M., Uusi‐Heikkilä, S., Vesamäki, J. S., Vuorio, K., & Tiirola, M. (2023). The second life of terrestrial and plastic carbon as nutritionally valuable food for aquatic consumers. Ecology Letters, 26(8), 1336-1347. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14244

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsTaipale, S. J.; Rigaud, C.; Calderini, M. L.; Kainz, M. J.; Pilecky, M.; Uusi‐Heikkilä, S.; Vesamäki, J. S.; Vuorio, K.; Tiirola, M.

Journal or seriesEcology Letters



Publication year2023

Publication date22/05/2023


Issue number8

Pages range1336-1347


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Research data linkhttps://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7856301

Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/87579

Additional informationPhytoplankton data are available at open-access interfaces for environmental data at the Finnish Environmental Centre (www.syke.fi), and fatty acid and amino acid data are available in Zenodo (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7856301).


Primary production is the basis for energy and biomolecule flow in food webs. Nutritional importance of terrestrial and plastic carbon via mixotrophic algae to upper trophic level is poorly studied. We explored this question by analysing the contribution of osmo- and phagomixotrophic species in boreal lakes and used 13C-labelled materials and compound-specific isotopes to determine biochemical fate of carbon backbone of leaves, lignin–hemicellulose and polystyrene at four-trophic level experiment. Microbes prepared similar amounts of amino acids from leaves and lignin, but four times more membrane lipids from lignin than leaves, and much less from polystyrene. Mixotrophic algae (Cryptomonas sp.) upgraded simple fatty acids to essential omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Labelled amino and fatty acids became integral parts of cell membranes of zooplankton (Daphnia magna) and fish (Danio rerio). These results show that terrestrial and plastic carbon can provide backbones for essential biomolecules of mixotrophic algae and consumers at higher trophic levels.

Keywordscarbon cycleamino acidsfatty acidsaquatic ecosystemsplanktonmicroalgaefood websorganic materialmicro-litterplastic

Free keywordsallochthonous carbon; amino acids; carbon cycle; fatty acids; food web; mixoplankton; plastic

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Related projects

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-15-05 at 13:12