Russian Journal of Marine Biology, Vol. 31, Suppl. 1, 2005, pp. S49–S60.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2005 by Biologiya Morya, Rod’kina.
1063-0740/05/3101-S © 2005 Pleiades Publishing, Inc.
Sponges are widespread in marine and fresh-water
ecosystems. They often occur in mass, some instances
being dominating forms in water biocenoses [2, 100].
As early as the Cambrian Sea there was fairly rich
sponge fauna from almost all classes and groups exist-
ing at the present. Today, about 5 thousand species of
sponges have been described, segregated into three
classes: Hexactinellida, Demospongiae, and Calcarea
. Among aquatic animals, sponges are speciﬁed by
the greatest diversity of sterols and fatty acids (FA),
which have an unusual and sometimes unique structure.
Some lipids of sponges are characterized as biologi-
cally active [19, 22, 60, 67, 81].
Regular research into the lipids of sponges began in
the 1970s . The ﬁrst review devoted to analysis of
lipids of sponges was compiled in 1979 . Attention
of scientists was concentrated on studies of the struc-
ture and functioning of biological membranes. The
peculiarity of sponge FAs, signiﬁcantly different by
their structure from that of other organisms, entailed the
idea that there was something unusual in the structure
and/or in the way of functioning of sponge membranes.
All that, concurrently with improvement of methods of
analysis, stimulated further research into the structure
and functions of the lipids of sponges. Now, the study
of sponge lipids is focused on revealing new constitu-
ents and determining their structure and pathways of
biosynthesis and properties, and elucidation of their
role in an organism [12, 22, 58]. Data on lipid compo-
sition of sponges widened our understanding about
diversity of biological molecules and are relevant for
chemosystematics of that group of animals and com-
prehension of their role in an ecosystem. The latest
review of lipids of sponges was compiled in 2003; how-
ever, it concerned only fresh-water sponges, represen-
tatives of the Spongillidae family . The objective of
the present work is the generalization of data available
on FA and lipids of marine sponges.
Structure of Fatty Acids of Sponges
The overwhelming majority of works on the study
of FA structure in sponges is devoted to representatives
of the class Demospongiae, whereas the FA structure of
representatives of other classes (Hexactinellida and
Calcarea) remains poorly studied [17, 74, 96]. About
400 various FAs, which had from 12 up to 32 atoms in
their carbon chain, were revealed in neutral lipids of
sponges, glycolipids, and phospholipids. Among them
there were FAs with unbranched carbon chain,
branched FAs with the methyl group in (n–2) and (n–3)
-) FAs, respectively],
FAs with one or several branches in the middle of the
chain, cyclopropane FAs, and FAs that contain other addi-
tional functional groups (hydroxy-, acetoxy-, metoxy- and
halogen-interrupted). Saturated, monoenic, and polyenic
acids occur among sponge FAs. The maximum number
of double bonds in molecules of sponge polyenes was
equal to six.
Microorganisms belonging to various taxonomic
groups, archaebacteria, bacteria, microalgae, fungi, and
protozoa may be associated with sponges . In some
sponges, the portion of symbionts was insigniﬁcant,
Fatty Acids and Other Lipids of Marine Sponges
S. A. Rod’kina
Institute of Marine Biology, Far East Division, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, 690041 Russia
Received May 12, 2005
—At the present, the structure of lipids and fatty acids (FA) of almost 250 species of marine sponges
has been studied. It was shown that sponges are leaders in FA diversity among aquatic animals. The great major-
ity of the works on research of FA structure in sponges was focused on representatives of the class Demospon-
giae and was carried out on organisms from tropical and subtropical areas, whereas sponges from the boreal
region remain poorly studied.
marine sponges, fatty acids, lipids, phospholipids, Demospongiae.
The following standard systems were used in the paper for
abridged notation of fatty acid structure. The base of FA charac-
teristic is compounded by two numbers divided by the colon, for
example, 18 : 1. The ﬁrst number speciﬁes the total number of
carbon atoms in a FA molecule, the second is the number of dou-
ble bonds. The positions of all double bonds in monoenic and
polyenic FAs were speciﬁed relative to the carboxyl group and
designated by the symbol
, e.g., 27 : 2
5,9. Positions of double
bonds in some widespread methylene-interrupted polyenes are
designated with use of the reduced nomenclature, where n is the
number of carbon atoms from the CH3 end of a FA carbon chain
at which the ﬁrst double bond is located, e.g.: 18:2n-6. As to ste-
reochemistry of double bonds, it follows that all double bonds in
a molecule have the
- conﬁguration. If a
-bond occurs in
the molecule, it is described as follows: 22 : 2
5A,9A. If an FA
has a branched chain, the position of the methyl group in the
hydrocarbon chain is speciﬁed, e.g., 18-Me-24 : 0.