Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Ecology

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Biologie | Ecology | Research | Projects | Nematodes as important source for ω3 long-chain fatty acids in the soil.

Nematodes as important source for ω3 long-chain fatty acids in the soil food web and the impact in nutrition for higher trophic levels.


This Project is funded by the DFG.


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 family (ω3 LC-PUFAs) are well recognized as compounds of great physiological importance for animals, predominantly vertebrates. This is due to the fact that most taxa do not possess specific enzymes to insert a double bound in the ω3-position, yet these are known in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Small soil invertebrates, in particular nematodes, likely form a major source for these important nutrient compounds, generally not widely available in terrestrial food webs.


The aim of this project is to determine how common the metabolic capability to de novo synthesize LC-PUFAs is in soil nematodes, and how this does enhance or even determine the availability of ω3 LC-PUFAs of consumers (and in turn their performance). 


To achieve these goals we combine genetic (approval of contributing genes) and physiological (fatty acid profiling, consumer growth and reproduction) approaches to gain deep understanding in the role of nematode derived ω3 LC-PUFAs in the food web. These results will be completed by empirical data from a field survey on the distribution of ω3 LC-PUFAs across the fauna of forest soil communities. 


In sum, the proposed project will elucidate, whether ω3 LC-PUFAs form a driving force in the soil food web and which basal groups serve as major source. 


Working packages