De novo Synthesis of Linoleic Acid in Multiple Collembola Species

Miriama Malcicka, Joachim Ruther, Jacintha Ellers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many ecological interactions in communities take place between consumers and the organisms they feed on. Continuous surplus of specific nutritional compounds in the diet may lead to evolutionary changes in the metabolic capacity of the consumer, leaving the biosynthesis of such compounds prone to genetic decay and render organisms auxotrophic. A nutrient that is essential to many organisms is the unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA; 18:2n-6), which is important in the maintenance of cell membrane fluidity and as a precursor for signaling molecules. LA is readily synthesized in bacteria, protozoa and plants, but it was long thought that all animals lack this ability. Although the majority of animals lack the ability for LA biosynthesis, an increasing number of studies have shown that LA is commonly synthesized in arthropods. Here, we investigated a basal hexapod group, Collembola, to shed light on early evolution of LA synthetic ability in arthropods and its relation to dietary composition. We use stable isotope labeling to detect biosynthesis of LA in Collembola fed with 13C–OA oleic acid (OA; 18:1n-9), a precursor of LA. Our data demonstrate that LA biosynthesis is common among Collembola with 10 out of 16 tested species being able to synthesize LA and 4 species lacking this ability. However, we did not find clear evidence for a relationship between LA synthetic ability and the natural diet of species. Thus, the selective pressures underlying LA biosynthesis might be species-specific and further research will shed new light on understanding this evolutionary process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-919
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • De novo synthesis
  • Desaturase
  • Diet
  • Essential nutrients
  • Nutrition
  • Oleic acid
  • PUFAs
  • Springtails


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