Isotopic composition of fatty acids of extremely piezophilic bacteria from the Mariana Trench at 11,000 m

Jiasong Fang*, Michael J. Barcelona, Teofilo Abrajano, Yuichi Nogi, Chiaki Kato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Two extremely piezophilic bacteria, DB21MT-2 and DB21MT-5, isolated from sediments of the Mariana Trench at 11,000 m, were grown in the laboratory under low-temperature (10°C) and high-pressure (70 MPa) conditions. Phospholipid esterlinked fatty acids (PLFA) were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and isotopic compositions of individual fatty acids were determined by gas chromatography isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-IRMS) in order to determine isotopic fractionation effects during biosynthesis. The piezophiles are characterized by fatty acids with carbon chains ranging from 14 to 22 carbons in length and by the presence of abundant polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Fatty acids from each culture exhibit a wide range of isotopic compositions (δ13C vs. Pee Dee Belemnite (PDB)). With two exceptions (C15:0 and C17:1 from DB21MT-2), all fatty acids are depleted in 13C relative to that of bulk carbon in the bacterial growth substrate. In addition, strain DB21MT-2 shows systematically higher (less negative) δ13C values than strain DB21MT-5. The implications for isotope fractionation in fatty acid biosynthesis and the interpretation of isotopic composition of sedimentary fatty acids are discussed. It is suggested that the same type of microorganisms could have rather different δ13C under the same growth conditions, and that sedimentary fatty acids with distinct δ13C values do not necessarily have to originate from different organisms. Interpretation of δ13C values of sedimentary biomarkers may be complicated by such large variations in δ13C of fatty acids given that they are biosynthesized by the same type of microorganisms grown under identical conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Extremely piezophilic bacteria
  • Fatty acids
  • Isotopic composition
  • Mariana Trench
  • Phospholipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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