University of Tasmania

File(s) not publicly available

Lipid biomarkers of deep-sea hydrothermal vent polychaetes - Alvinella pompejana, A. caudata, Paralvinella grasslei and Hesiolyra bergii

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 17:34 authored by Phleger, CF, Nelson, MM, Groce, AK, Cary, SC, Coyne, K, Gibson, JAE, Nichols, PD
The lipid composition was determined for 5 species of polychaete annelids collected by the Deep Submergence Vehicle ALVIN from high temperature chimneys at the 2500 m depth hydrothermal vent field of the East Pacific Rise. These are the first lipid biomarker analyses reported for these hydrothermal vent polychaetes. Lipid content was low in all samples (1.6-35.9 mg g -1 wet mass) and was dominated by polar lipid (78-90% of total lipid) with 8-19% sterol (ST), and very low storage lipid (triacylglycerol and wax ester). Total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were moderately high (22-31% of total fatty acids (FA)) with extremely low or no docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6(n-3)). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5(n-3)) levels were 5-6% in Alvinella pompejana and A. caudata and 10.3-13.7% in an errantiate polychaete (likely Hesionidae) and Hesiolyra bergii. There were greater PUFA and a greater EPA/AA (AA is arachidonic acid, 20:4(n-6)) ratio in the anterior versus the posterior half of A. pompejana, which may correlate to the strong temperature gradient reported in its tube. Total nonmethylene interrupted diunsaturated fatty acids (NMID) were 4-9% of total FA for most polychaete species and included several 20:2 and 22:2 components. The principal monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) included 18:1(n-7)c (14-19%), 16:1(n-7)c (2.6-10%) and 20:1(n-11)c (3-7% of total FA). These polychaete species may desaturate and elongate the bacterial-derived 18:1(n-7)c to obtain the essential FA EPA and AA. The major ST in the polychaetes is cholesterol (89-98% of total ST) with less cholesterol in the gut contents of A. pompejana. Other ST included 24-ethylcholesterol (1.5-5% of total ST) with lesser amounts of 24-methylenecholesterol, desmosterol, lathosterol, 24-methylcholesterol, 24-ethylcholesterol, and the stanols dehydrocholestanol and cholestanol. The high ST levels could play a role in thermal adaptation of membranes at the hydrothermal vent environment. Differences in the FA profiles separated the closely related species A. pompejana and A. caudata from Paralvinella grasslei, H. bergii, and the errantiate polychaete (likely Hesionidae). © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Publication title

Deep-Sea Research. Part 1: Oceanographic Research Papers










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd.

Place of publication

Oxford, England

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager