Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
22 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 22 Mar 2012

Low temporal variation in the intact polar lipid composition of North Sea coastal marine water reveals limited chemotaxonomic value

J. Brandsma, E. C. Hopmans, C. J. M. Philippart, M. J. W. Veldhuis, S. Schouten, and J. S. Sinninghe Damsté

Abstract. Temporal variations in the abundance and composition of intact polar lipids (IPLs) in North Sea coastal marine water were assessed over a one-year seasonal cycle, and compared with environmental parameters and the microbial community composition. Sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol (SQDG) was the most abundant IPL class, followed by phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and diacylglyceryl-(N,N,N)-trimethylhomoserine (DGTS) in roughly equal concentrations, and smaller amounts of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). Although the total concentrations of these IPL classes varied substantially throughout the year, the composition of the IPL pool remained remarkably constant. Statistical analysis yielded negative correlations between IPL concentrations and dissolved inorganic nutrient concentrations, but no changes in the overall planktonic IPL composition due to nutrient limitation were observed. Significant correlations between SQDG, PC, PG and DGTS concentrations and chlorophyll a concentrations and algal abundances indicated that eukaryotic primary producers, in particular Phaeocystis globosa, were the predominant source of IPLs at this site. However, while IPL concentrations in the water were closely tied to total algal abundances, the rapid succession of different algal groups blooming throughout the year resulted in only minor shifts in the IPL composition. Principal component analysis showed that the IPLs were derived from multiple sources, and that no IPL species could be exclusively assigned to a particular algal taxa or (cyano)bacteria. Thus, the most commonly occurring IPLs appear to have limited chemotaxonomic potential, highlighting the need to use targeted assays of more specific biomarker IPLs.

Final-revised paper