A laboratory study simulating herbivorous feeding was carried out with the marine crustacean Neomysis integer (Leach) and the dinoflagellate Scrippsiella trochoidea (Stein). Analyses of the total fatty acids, sterols and fatty alcohols in the food and faecal material, and in the animal tissue, have allowed the detailed changes in the dietary lipids during feeding to be characterised.
The results show this feeding leads to a net decrease in total lipid in the material passing through the gut of the animal, particularly due to the bioassimilation of fatty acids. All fatty acid saturation classes are assimilated but the mono-unsaturated and particularly polyunsaturated fatty acids are preferentially assimilated over others. Herbivorous feeding does, however, lead to the quantitative and relative increase in ‘bacterial’-type odd C number branched-chain fatty acids in the faecal material.