Environmental effects on arsenosugars and arsenolipids in Ectocarpus (Phaeophyta)

Ásta H Pétursdóttir , Kyle Fletcher, Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir, Eva Krupp, Frithjof Küpper , Jörg Feldmann

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Seaweeds have recently been shown to contain a significant proportion of arsenic in the form of arsenolipids (AsLp). Three strains of the filamentous brown alga Ectocarpus species were grown in the laboratory with different simulations of environmental stress: control conditions (1/2 Provasoli-enriched seawater), low nitrate (30 % of the amount of nitrates in the control), low phosphate (30 % of the amount of phosphate in the control) and under oxidative stress levels (2 mM H2O2). Generally, the major AsLp was an arsenic-containing hydrocarbon, AsHC360 (50–80 %), but additionally, several arsenic-containing phospholipids (AsPL) were identified and quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography–inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS/ ESI-MS). The AsLps in cultures were compared with AsLps in Ectocarpusfound in its natural habitat as well as with other brown filamentous algae. The AsLp and arsenosugar profiles differed depending on the experimental conditions. Under
low phosphate conditions, a significant reduction of phosphorus-containing arsenosugars was noticed, and a significant increase of phosphate-containing AsLps was found when compared with the controls. Strains grown under oxidative stress showed a significant increase in AsLps as well as clear physiological changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

We thank Gillian Milne, of the Aberdeen Microscopy Facility, University of
Aberdeen, for help in preparing and viewing the samples through TEM and
Ingo Maier, from the Universita¨t Konstanz, for kindly providing us with an
optimised processing schedule for the fixation of Ectocarpus for TEM. We
also express our gratitude to Dawn Shewring for her help with algal culturing.
A´ . H. Petursdo´ttir thanks the Icelandic research fund (grant reference
130542–051), the SORSAS award and The College of Physical Sciences at
Aberdeen University for financial support. F. C. Ku¨pper also received
funding from the MASTS (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) pooling initiative and their support is gratefully acknowledged.
MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference
HR09011) and contributing institutions.


  • chloroplasts
  • cultures
  • lipid-soluble arsenic
  • speciation


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