An Evolutionary Perspective on Linoleic Acid Synthesis in Animals

Miriama Malcicka, Bertanne Visser, Jacintha Ellers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The diet of organisms generally provides a sufficient supply of energy and building materials for healthy growth and development, but should also contain essential nutrients. Species differ in their exogenous requirements, but it is not clear why some species are able to synthesize essential nutrients, while others are not. The unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA; 18:2n-6) plays an important role in functions such as cell physiology, immunity, and reproduction, and is an essential nutrient in diverse organisms. LA is readily synthesized in bacteria, protozoa and plants, but it was long thought that all animals lacked the ability to synthesize LA de novo and thus required a dietary source of this fatty acid. Over the years, however, an increasing number of studies have shown active LA synthesis in animals, including insects, nematodes and pulmonates. Despite continued interest in LA metabolism, it has remained unclear why some organisms can synthesize LA while others cannot. Here, we review the mechanisms by which LA is synthesized and which biological functions LA supports in different organisms to answer the question why LA synthesis was lost and repeatedly gained during the evolution of distinct invertebrate groups. We propose several hypotheses and compile data from the available literature to identify which factors promote LA synthesis within a phylogenetic framework. We have not found a clear link between our proposed hypotheses and LA synthesis; therefore we suggest that LA synthesis may be facilitated through bifunctionality of desaturase enzymes or evolved through a combination of different selective pressures.

LanguageEnglish
Pages15-26
JournalEvolutionary Biology
Volume45
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2018

Fingerprint

linoleic acid
synthesis
animal
acid
organisms
nutrient
animals
fatty acid
nutrients
cell physiology
immunity
growth and development
entomopathogenic nematodes
physiology
nematode
unsaturated fatty acids
invertebrate
metabolism
Protozoa
insect

Keywords

  • Arthropods
  • De novo synthesis
  • Desaturase
  • Essential nutrients
  • Fatty acids
  • PUFAs

Cite this

Malcicka, Miriama ; Visser, Bertanne ; Ellers, Jacintha. / An Evolutionary Perspective on Linoleic Acid Synthesis in Animals. In: Evolutionary Biology. 2018 ; Vol. 45, No. 1. pp. 15-26
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An Evolutionary Perspective on Linoleic Acid Synthesis in Animals. / Malcicka, Miriama; Visser, Bertanne; Ellers, Jacintha.

In: Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 45, No. 1, 03.2018, p. 15-26.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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