U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part B 161 (2012) 348–355; doi:10.1016/j.cbpb.2011.12.011


The benthic amphipod Diporeia spp. was once the predominant macroinvertebrate in deep, offshore regions of the Laurentian Great Lakes. However, since the early 1990s, Diporeia populations have steadily declined across the area. It has been hypothesized that this decline is due to starvation from increasing competition for food with invasive dreissenid mussels. In order to gain a better understanding of the changes in Diporeia physiology during starvation, we applied two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with time of flight mass spectrometry (GCXGC/TOF-MS) for investigating the responses in Diporeia metabolome during starvation. We starved Diporeia for 60 days and collected five organisms every 12 days for metabolome analyses. Upon arrival to the laboratory, organisms were flash frozen and served as control (day 0). We observed an increase in lipid oxidation and protein catabolism with subsequent declines of essential amino acids (proline, glutamine, and phenylalanine), down-regulation of glycerophospholipid and sphingolipid metabolism, and decreased polyunsaturated fatty acid abundance in nutritionally stressed Diporeia. Abundance of 1-Iodo-2- methylundecane, a metabolite closely related to insect pheromones, also declined with starvation. This research has further substantiated the applicability of GCXGC/TOF-MS as a research tool in the field of environmental metabolomics. The next step is to apply this new knowledge for evaluating nutritional status of feral Diporeia to elucidate the underlying cause(s) responsible for their decline in the Great Lakes.