• aquaculture;
  • chemical composition;
  • essential fatty acids;
  • fatty acids;
  • light;
  • marine phytoplankton


Eight species of marine phytoplankton commonly used in aquaculture were grown under a range of photon flux densities (PEDs) and analyzed for their fatty acid (FA) composition. Fatty and composition changed considerably at different PFDs although no consistent correlation between the relative proportion of a single FA and μ or chl a · cell−1 was apparent. Within an individual species the percentage of certain fatty acids covaried with PFDs, growth rate and/or chl a · cell−1. The light conditions which produced the greatest proportion of the essential fatty acids was species specific. Eicosapentaenoic acid. 20:5ω3 increased from 6.1% to 15.5% of the total fatty acids of Chaetoceros simplex Ostenfield grown at PFDs which decreased from 225 μE · m−2· s−1 to 6 μE · m−2· s−1, respectively. Most species had their greatest proportion of 20: 5ω3 at low levels of irradiance. Conversely, docosahexaenoic acid, 22:6ω3, decreased from 9.7% to 3.6% of the total fatty acids in Pavlova lutheri Droop as PFD decreased. The percentage of 22:6ω3 generally decreased with decreasing irradiances. In all diatoms the percentage of 16:0 was significantly correlated with PFD, and in three of five diatoms, with growth rate (μ). Results suggest that fatty acid composition is a highly dynamic component of cellular physiology, which responds significantly to variation in PFD.