Fatty acid composition of larvae of the sand dollar Dendraster excentricus (Echinodermata) might reflect FA composition of the diets
Fatty acid (FA) requirements of echinoderm larvae were examined by a study of the FA composition, growth, and development of Dendraster excentricus larvae fed a microencapsulated diet, and two algal diets. Larvae were assigned to three treatments with three replicates per treatment, a microencapsulated diet, a single algal diet of Dunaliella tertiolecta and a mixed algal diet of Isochrysis galbana and Dunaliella tertiolecta. The percentage of saturated fatty acids (SAFA), short and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) differed significantly among the algal diets and the microencapsulated diet. Differences in dietary FA composition influenced larval tissue FA composition. Eight day-old sand dollar larvae fed the single and mixed algal diets had a significantly higher percentage of the SAFA myristic acid (14:0), while eight day-old larvae fed the microencapsulated diet had a significantly higher percentage of the SAFA palmitic acid (16:0). Sixteen day-old competent larvae fed all three diets did not differ significantly in the percentage of myristic or palmitic acid. The algal diets had a higher percentage of the short chain PUFAs linolenic (LNA, 18:3n-3) and stearidonic acid (SDA, 18:4n-3) while the microencapsulated diet had the highest percentage of the long chain PUFAs eicosapentanoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) docosahexanoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6). The percentage of short chain PUFAs, though high in the algal diets, was low in the larval tissues, while the percentage of long chain PUFAs, though low in the algal diets, was high in the larval tissues. Competent larvae fed the two algal diets had up to ten times the percentage of EPA and AA than those fed the microencapsulated diet. Unexpectedly, despite a high percentage of DHA and EPA in the microencapsulated diet, the percentage of these long chain PUFAs in the tissues of larvae fed this diet was extremely low. Eight day-old larvae fed the three diets did not differ significantly in total larval length. Competent larvae fed algal diets had significantly longer larval arms, bigger stomachs and larger rudiments than those fed the microencapsulated diet. This study indicates that early larval growth and development of Dendraster excentricus were not discernibly affected by differences in dietary FA composition of microencapsulated and algal diets but the competent larval stages were. Similar growth and development of competent echinoderm larvae fed microencapsulated or algal diets might be obtained by enriching the microencapsulated diets with the short chain PUFAs LNA and SDA, and the long chain PUFAs EPA and AA. This is an important research tool as microencapsulated feeds can be used to establish nutritional requirements of fatty acids for echinoderm larval development.