Skip to content


  • Hydrophysik Und Hydrochemie
  • Open Access

Pristane in the marine environment

  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen10:BF01626106


    1. Methods are described for the sensitive determination of pristane and similar hydrocarbons in individual planktonic organisms and for the isolation of pristane from copepod oil.

    2. Pristane (2, 6, 10, 14-tetramethylpentadecane) occurs in unusually high concentrations (1–3% of the body lipid) inCalanus finmarchicus, C. glacialis, andC. hyperboreus, and at lower concentrations in a wide range of planktonic animals from the Gulf of Maine and continental slope waters.

    3. A predator,Paraeuchaeta norvegica, contains pristane at an intermediate level between that ofCalanus and the other herbivores, probably as a result of feeding onCalanus.

    4. On the basis of relative abundance and structural similarity, phytol is suggested as the precursor of pristane in herbivorous zooplankton.

    5. Pristane content is unaltered or increased during the metabolism of the major deposit lipids ofCalanus hyperboreus during starvation in the laboratory or in nature. Because of its low density, pristane may contribute to the bouyancy ofCalanus, especially when the other lipids are metabolized.

    6. Pristane may prove useful as a biochemical integrator for the total assimilation of phytoplankton byCalanus.

    7. Some planktonic organisms may be characterized by the presence of specific compounds, e. g. pristane inCalanus and several unknown compounds inRhincalanus.

    8. Specific products of organisms of limited geographical occurence may prove useful as biochemical tags of water masses.


    • Phytoplankton
    • Assimilation
    • Phytol
    • Continental Slope
    • Body Lipid