Lipid composition of the liver oil of deep-sea sharks from the Chatham Rise, New Zealand

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2000 Apr;125(4):511-21. doi: 10.1016/s0305-0491(00)00154-1.


Deep-sea sharks approach neutral buoyancy by means of a large liver that contains large amounts of low-density lipids, primarily squalene and diacyl glyceryl ether (DAGE). As an animal increases in size and matures sexually, many biochemical changes take place within the animal. It was hypothesized that maintenance of neutral buoyancy in deep-sea sharks involves fine-scale changes in the chemical composition of the liver oil as individual sharks grow and develop. To test this hypothesis, the lipid composition of liver oil for individuals of different size and sex of deep-sea sharks from the Chatham Rise, New Zealand was compared. The composition of liver oil varied within and among species. Several species contained large amounts of squalene and DAGE, whereas only traces of these lipids were present in other species. The amounts of squalene and DAGE in liver oil were inversely related, and squalene content tended to decrease as sharks increased in size. Species with high squalene levels (> 80%) in liver oil were not abundant on the Chatham Rise, although levels of DAGE (a lipid of increasing commercial interest) were elevated in many species. Maintenance of neutral buoyancy in deep-sea sharks appears to involve changes in the composition of low-density liver lipids as the sharks increase in size and mature.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diglycerides / chemistry
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / chemistry*
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Male
  • New Zealand
  • Sharks / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Triglycerides / chemistry


  • Diglycerides
  • Fish Oils
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides