Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

Our leaders are working closely with federal and state officials to ensure your ongoing safety at the university. Stay up to date with the latest developments. Learn more.

Alanine delta(15) N trophic fractionation in heterotrophic protists

TitleAlanine delta(15) N trophic fractionation in heterotrophic protists
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDecima M, Landry MR, Bradley C.J, Fogel M.L
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Date Published2017/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0024-3590
Accession NumberWOS:000410726500032
Keywordsamino-acid-composition; delta-n-15; diet quality; fish muscle; food webs; nitrogen isotope fractionation; oxyrrhis-marina; particulate nitrogen; phytoplankton growth; stable-isotopes; values

We evaluated differences in the N-15 isotopic enrichment factors of trophic amino acids (AA) for protistan (microzooplankton) and metazoan (mesozooplankton) consumers, testing the hypothesis that delta N-15 of alanine (ala) increases in both consumer types, while glutamic acid (glu) enriches mainly in mesozooplankton. AA delta N-15 values were measured for dinoflagellate and ciliate grazers and their respective algal prey (Oxyrrhis marina/Dunaliella tertiolecta and Favella sp./Heterocapsa triquetra) in four two-stage chemostat experiments, including treatments with different nitrogen : phosphorous nutrient ratios and light/dark recycling conditions. Propagation of AA N-15 enrichment to a metazoan consumer was also assessed in two-and three-stage chemostat experiments simulating simple "classical" (Calanus pacificus and the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii) and "multivorous" (C. pacificus, O. marina, and D. tertiolecta) food chains. We found small or negligible 15 N-enrichment of glu for both protistan grazers, while ala enrichment was consistently greater and similar to that in metazoan consumers. Ala and glu delta N-15 values were both highly elevated in C. pacificus relative to prey, and enrichment was higher with autotrophic diets. These laboratory results suggest that ala may be used as an alternate, accurate isotopic proxy for quantifying protistan contributions to trophic structure in aquatic systems.

Student Publication: