• Eelgrass pathogen Labyrinthula zosterae synthesizes essential fatty acids

      Yoshioka, R. M.; Schram, Julie B.; Galloway, Aaron W. E. (Inter-Research, 2019-07-25)
      Negative consequences of parasites and disease on hosts are usually better understood than their multifaceted ecosystem effects. The pathogen Labyrinthula zosterae (Lz) causes eelgrass wasting disease but has relatives that produce large quantities of nutritionally valuable long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Here we quantify the fatty acids (FA) of Lz cultured on artificial media, eelgrass-based media, and eelgrass segments to investigate whether Lz may similarly produce LCPUFA. We also assess whether fieldcollected lesions show similar FA patterns to laboratory-inoculated eelgrass. We find that Lz produces DHA as its dominant FA along with other essential FA on both artificial and eelgrass-based media. DHA content was greater in both laboratory-inoculated and field-collected diseased eelgrass relative to their respective controls. If Lz’s production scales in situ, it may present an unrecognized source of LCPUFA in eelgrass ecosystems.