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The analysis of vitamin E in phyto- and zooplankton samples
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Ecological Botany.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Ulleråker, University Hospital.
Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Vitamin E (a-tocopherol in particular) is one of the major and most potent lipid-soluble antioxidants in vivo. It is produced by autotrophs and is essential in the diet of heterotrophs. In the last decades deficiencies of essential substances such as astaxanthin and vitamin B1 (thiamine) were discovered in aquatic top predators and underlying causes seem to be food-web related. In the case of vitamin E, there is a lack of studies on the mechanisms of production and transport in aquatic food webs, which is partly related to complicated extraction procedures and high detection limits. This paper presents an improved method for the extraction and detection of a-, g- and d-tocopherol in low-biomass plankton samples. The method uses N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) and n-hexane as extraction solvents  with sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) as  additive. This improves extraction yield and simplifies the extraction procedure because elaborate homogenization and saponification steps are unnecessary and extraction time is  decreased to 1 min. Quantification of vitamin E is performed with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) using electrochemical detection (ECD). Detection limits of the new method are 18.5, 16.3 and 8.0 pg injected and 0.74, 0.65 and 0.32 ng mL-1 extract for a-, g- and d-tocopherol, respectively. Altogether, this is a reliable, fast and sensitive method which will allow more detailed investigations of vitamin E dynamics in aquatic food webs.


Keyword [en]
alpha-tocopherol, zooplankton, phytoplankton, HPLC, ECD
Research subject
Analytical Chemistry; Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130137OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-130137DiVA: diva2:346640
Available from: 2010-09-02 Created: 2010-09-02 Last updated: 2011-01-10
In thesis
1. Dynamics of astaxanthin, tocopherol (Vitamin E) and thiamine (Vitamin B1) in the Baltic Sea ecosystem: Bottom-up effects in an aquatic food web
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamics of astaxanthin, tocopherol (Vitamin E) and thiamine (Vitamin B1) in the Baltic Sea ecosystem: Bottom-up effects in an aquatic food web
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis combines laboratory experiments and field expeditions to study production, transfer and consumption of non-enzymatic antioxidants and thiamine in an aquatic food web. In particular, I (1) documented spatial and seasonal variation of tocopherols and carotenoids in the Baltic Sea pelagic food web, and (2) examined the effects of abiotic and biotic factors on tocopherol, carotenoid and thiamine concentrations in phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish.

Moderate differences in temperature and salinity affected α-tocopherol, β-carotene and thiamine production in microalgae. Furthermore, the results suggest that acute stress favors the expression of non-enzymatic antioxidants rather than enzymatic antioxidants. Because production of α-tocopherol, β-carotene and thiamine differ markedly between microalgae, the availability of non-enzymatic antioxidants and thiamine is likely to be highly variable in the Baltic Sea and is difficult to predict.

The transfer of non-enzymatic antioxidants from phytoplankton to zooplankton was biomass dependent. The field expeditions revealed that phytoplankton biomass was negatively associated with α-tocopherol concentration in mesozooplankton. Thus, increased eutrophication of the Baltic Sea followed by an increase in phytoplankton biomass could decrease the transfer of essential biochemicals to higher levels in the pelagic food web. This could lead to deficiency syndromes, of the kind already observed in the Baltic Sea. Astaxanthin is synthesized from precursors provided by the phytoplankton community. Thus biomass dependent transfer of astaxanthin precursors from phytoplankton to zooplankton could be responsible for astaxanthin deficiency in zooplanktivorous herring. Astaxanthin in herring consists mostly of all-Z-isomers, which are characterized by low bioavailability. Therefore, astaxanthin deficiency in salmon could be explained by the low concentration of this substance and its isomeric composition in herring.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 47 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 762
Baltic Sea, carotenoids, astaxanthin, tocopherols, Vitamin E, thiamine, Vitamin B1, pelagic food web, eutrophication, M74, phytoplankton, zooplankton, sprat, Sprattus sprattus balticus, herring, Clupea harengus, salmon, Salmo salar, cod, Gadus morhua, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), electrochemical detection (ECD)
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130143 (URN)978-91-554-7878-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-15, Lindahlsalen, Norbyvägen 18, EBC, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-09-23 Created: 2010-09-02 Last updated: 2011-01-10

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