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Journal of Lipids
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4579794, 9 pages
Research Article

Changes in Sediment Fatty Acid Composition during Passage through the Gut of Deposit Feeding Holothurians: Holothuria atra (Jaeger, 1883) and Holothuria leucospilota (Brandt, 1835)

1Department of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Technology, University of Dar es Salaam, P. O. Box 35064, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
2Laboratory of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Senbaru-1, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan

Received 30 October 2015; Accepted 14 February 2016

Academic Editor: Clifford A. Lingwood

Copyright © 2016 Prosper L. Mfilinge and Makoto Tsuchiya. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sea cucumbers Holothuria atra and Holothuria leucospilota play an important role in the bioturbation of sediment in coral reef and rocky intertidal ecosystems. This study investigated changes in sediment fatty acid (FA) composition during gut passage in H. atra and H. leucospilota. The FA composition did not differ significantly between species. Comparison of FA composition in ambient sediment (AS), foregut (FG), midgut (MG), hindgut (HG), and faecal pellets (FPs) indicated that marked changes in FA composition occurred during passage through the gut of H. atra and H. leucospilota. Saturated fatty acids (SAFAs), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and branched fatty acids (BrFAs) were significantly higher in FG than in AS, suggesting that both species selectively ingested nutrient rich particles. Significant reduction of SAFAs, MUFAs, PUFAs, and BrFAs occurred in MD and HD, with complete elimination of most PUFAs in FPs. A decrease in PUFAs 20:5ω3, 18:4ω3, 22:5ω3, 22:6ω3, 18:2ω6, 18:3ω3, 18:3ω6, odd-numbered BrFAs, and MUFA 18:1ω7 indicated that algal detritus and bacteria were important part of diet. These results have implications for the fate of specific dietary FAs, especially ω3 and ω6, and the contribution holothurian FPs make to the FA composition of coral reef and rocky intertidal ecosystems.