Tracing the biosynthetic source of essential amino acids in marine turtles using delta C-13 fingerprints

Arthur, Karen E., Kelez, Shaleyla, Larsen, Thomas, Choy, C. Anela and Popp, Brian N. (2014) Tracing the biosynthetic source of essential amino acids in marine turtles using delta C-13 fingerprints Ecology, 95 (5). pp. 1285-1293.

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Plants, bacteria, and fungi produce essential amino acids (EAAs) with distinctive patterns of C-13 values that can be used as naturally occurring fingerprints of biosynthetic origin of EAAs in a food web. Because animals cannot synthesize EAAs and must obtain them from food, their tissues reflect C-13(EAA) patterns found in diet, but it is not known how microbes responsible for hindgut fermentation in some herbivores influence the C-13 values of EAAs in their hosts' tissues. We examined whether distinctive C-13 fingerprints of hindgut flora are evident in the tissues of green turtles (Chelonia mydas), which are known to be facultative hindgut fermenters. We determined C-13(EAA) values in tissues of green turtles foraging herbivorously in neritic habitats of Hawaii and compared them with those from green, olive ridley, and loggerhead turtles foraging carnivorously in oceanic environments of the central and southeast Pacific Ocean. Results of multivariate statistical analysis revealed two distinct groups that could be distinguished based on unique C-13(EAA) patterns. A three-end-member predictive linear discriminant model indicated that C-13(EAA) fingerprints existed in the tissues of carnivorous turtles that resembled patterns found in microalgae, which form the base of an oceanic food web, whereas herbivorous turtles derive EAAs from a bacterial or seagrass source. This study demonstrates the capacity for C-13 fingerprinting to establish the biosynthetic origin of EAAs in higher consumers, and that marine turtles foraging on macroalgal diets appear to receive nutritional supplementation from bacterial symbionts in their digestive system.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Times Cited: 1 Larsen, Thomas/D-3105-2012 Larsen, Thomas/0000-0002-0311-9707 0 1
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0012-9658
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2015 11:56
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 15:15

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