Unusual novel n-4 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cold-seep mussels (Bathymodiolus japonicus and Bathymodiolus platifrons), originating from symbiotic methanotrophic bacteria

J Chromatogr A. 2008 Jul 25;1200(2):242-54. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2008.05.094. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Novel fatty acids originated from the two cold-seep mussels Bathymodiolus japonicus and Bathymodiolus platifrons, which host methane-oxidizing bacteria, were determined by using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of the 4,4-dimethyloxazoline derivatives. The major polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the two mussels belong to unusual n-4 and n-7 methylene interrupted PUFAs, such as 18:3 n-7,10,13 (Delta5,8,11-18:3), 18:4 n-4,7,10,13 (Delta5,8,11,14-18:4), 20:3n-7,10,13 (Delta7,10,13-20:3), 20:4n-4,7,10,13 (Delta7,10,13,16-20:4), and 21:4n-7,10,13,16 (Delta5,8,11,14-20:4). The similarity of fatty acids in the two Bathymodiolus species produced by the symbiotic bacteria, indicate occurrence of highly homologous mussel symbionts. In contrast to the lipids of shallow-water mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis, which contains photosynthetic n-3 PUFAs, the two Bathymodiolus mussels were lacking in docosahexaenoic acid and icosapentaenoic acid even though they are marine animals. These findings suggest the Bathymodiolus species survive independently of photosynthetic products, similar to the Calyptogena clams, which house sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and whose lipid contains n-4 non-methylene interrupted PUFAs (20:3n-4,7,15 (Delta5,13,16-20:3), 20:4n-1,4,7,15 (Delta5,13,16,19-20:4), and 21:3n-4,7,16 (Delta5,14,17-20:3)). The similarity in n-4 fatty acids between the mussels and the clam suggests that these bivalves depend on analogous n-4 family PUFAs and that the n-4 PUFA family is a characteristic of all vent bivalves depending on geothermal energy. The differences of the n-4 PUFAs between the mussels and the clam suggest a generic specificity of symbiotic bacteria and differences in lipid physiology between thiotrophic and methanotrophic symbionts. Such a highly diversified variety of n-4 family PUFAs in the mussels and the clam under different environments presumably increase the great potential of the chemosynthetic bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bivalvia / chemistry
  • Bivalvia / microbiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Symbiosis*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated