Biotic and abiotic degradation of suspended particulate lipids along a transect in the Chukchi Sea
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Lipids and their degradation products were investigated in samples of suspended particulate matter (SPM) collected in summer 2015 from surface waters of a South-North transect (ca. 65–81°N) of the Chukchi Sea. This material appeared to be composed mainly of diatoms (dominated by Thalassiosirales) and copepod faecal pellet debris. The high solar irradiances measured in the surface waters (up to 500 W m−2) favour chlorophyll (sensitizer) photobleaching at the expense of Type II photosensitized oxidation of unsaturated lipid components of phyto- and zooplankton (photodynamic effect). The weak photoreactivity of wax esters of herbivorous zooplankton in these SPM samples contrasts with previous observations of strong photooxidation of these compounds in sinking particles, which suggests that the photodynamic effect should be favoured in large faecal pellets of herbivorous copepods sinking quickly in weakly irradiated zones. Autoxidation (free radical induced oxidation) processes operating in all oxic environments appeared to be particularly efficient in faecal pellets of omnivorous and carnivorous zooplankton and limited in those of herbivorous origin. These differences were attributed to the consumption of algal antioxidants (such as mycosporine-like amino acids and carotenoids) during the diet of omnivorous and carnivorous copepods, favouring the involvement of free radical oxidation processes.
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