Carbon Isotope Compositions of Fatty Acids in Mussels from Newfoundland Estuaries

Dena E. Murphy*, Teofilo Abrajano

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Scopus citations


    This paper examines the carbon isotopic compositions of free fatty acids of two species of mussels (i.e. Mytilus edulis and Modiolus modiolus) from two estuarine environments around Newfoundland. Gas chromatography and conventional isotope ratio mass spectrometry were employed to characterize bulk fatty acids and gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry was utilized to characterize the carbon isotope compositions of individual fatty acids. The bulk fatty acid distribution (dominance of 16:0, 20:5n3, 22:6n3 and 16:1) and carbon isotopic compositions (-27·3 to -25·8 per mil) indicate a dominant marine phytoplankton dietary source for the mussels. In contrast to the narrow range of bulk fatty acid δ13C values, up to 7 per mil variation in δ13C of individual fatty acids was observed. In general, saturated fatty acids are isotopically heavier than corresponding mono- and polyunsaturates, consistent with previously suggested kinetic isotope effect associated with de novo desaturation reactions. The depletion of 13 C in 18:4n3 compared with 22:6n3 and 20:5n3 indicates a distinct dietary source for 18:4n3. The present study shows the potential for detailed assessment of carbon flow in benthic ecosystems using fatty acids and other compound classes by gas chromatography/combustion/isotope ratio mass spectrometry.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)261-272
    Number of pages12
    JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 1 1994


    • Newfoundland coast
    • carbon
    • estuarine habitat
    • fatty acids
    • isotope ratios
    • mussels

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oceanography
    • Aquatic Science


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