The research “is another example of how human activities are perturbing the oceans in ways that we never expected, and of the uncertainty of how the ocean is going to respond to warming”, said Benjamin Van Mooy, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), a US-based non-profit organization.
The team conducted a survey that analyzed 930 lipid samples across 146 locations collected during seven oceanographic research cruises from 2013 to 2018, using a uniform high-resolution accurate mass spectrometry analytical workflow.
Climate Change and Omega-3 Fatty Acids Production
“Focusing on ten molecularly diverse glycerolipid classes, we identified 1,151 distinct lipid species, finding that fatty acid unsaturation (that is, number of carbon to carbon double bonds) is fundamentally constrained by temperature. We predict significant declines in the essential fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) over the next century, which are likely to have serious deleterious effects on economically critical fisheries,” states the paper.
EPA, one of the most nutritious omega-3 fatty acids, has been linked to numerous health benefits, and is widely available as a dietary supplement.
“The lipids in the ocean affect your life. We found that the composition of lipids in the ocean will change as the ocean warms. That is a cause for concern. We need those lipids that are in the ocean because they influence the quality of the food that the ocean produces for humanity,” Van Mooy said.
Lipids are a class of biomolecules produced and used by organisms from all domains of life for energy storage, membrane structure, and signaling. They make up about 10-20% of the plankton in the surface ocean where lipid production and inventories are greatest.
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