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Distribution of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Bacteria Present in Intestines of Deep-Sea Fish and Shallow-Sea Poikilothermic Animals

By Y. Yano, A. Nakayama and K. Yoshida


The lipid and fatty acid compositions in nine obligate and facultative barophilic bacteria isolated from the intestinal contents of seven deep-sea fish were determined. Phospholipid compositions were simple, with phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylglycerol predominating in all strains. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), which has not been reported in procaryotes except for deep-sea bacteria, was found to be present in eight strains at a level of 8.1 to 21.5% of total fatty acids. In the other strain, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) was present at a level of 31.5% of total fatty acids. Other fatty acids observed in all strains were typical of marine gram-negative bacteria. Subcultures from pouches prepared from intestinal contents of five deep-sea fish by the most-probable-number (MPN) method were analyzed for fatty acids, and all subcultures contained DHA and/or EPA. Accordingly, viable cell counts of bacteria containing DHA and EPA were estimated at a maximum of 1.3 x 10(sup8) and 2.4 x 10(sup8) cells per ml, respectively, and accounted for 14 and 30%, respectively, of the total cell counts in the intestinal contents of the deep-sea fish. In the case of 10 shallow-sea poikilothermic animals having bacterial populations of 1.1 x 10(sup6) to 1.9 x 10(sup9) CFU per ml in intestinal contents, no DHA was found in the 112 isolates examined, while production of EPA was found in 40 isolates from cold- and temperate-sea samples. These results suggest that DHA and EPA are involved in some adaptations of bacteria to low temperature and high pressure

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