, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 169-181

Patterns of variation in the lipid class and fatty acid composition of Nannochloropsis oculata (Eustigmatophyceae) during batch culture

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Changes in the lipid and fatty acyl compositions of the marine microalga Nannochloropsis oculata Droop were examined during a batch culture growth cycle. During the early phase of batch culture the cellular proportion of triacylglycerols (TAG) increased. This was in addition to the increases in TAG observed in many microalgal species in the stationary-phase. Concomitant increases in the relative proportions of both saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids and decreases in the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids in total lipid were also associated with this phase. The separated individual lipid classes were found to have characteristic fatty acyl compositions. The relative proportion of lipid per cell, the relative proportions of the individual lipid classes and the fatty acyl compositions of the individual classes were all subject to variability during the growth cycle. The changing total lipid fatty acyl composition of N. oculata was found to be determined by the proportion of the total lipid present as TAG. The data suggest that the changes observed in the fatty acyl composition of N. oculata are a result of the partitioning of photosynthetically fixed carbon between polar and neutral lipid class biosynthesis and fatty acyl desaturation and elongation pathways. The effect of such a partitioning of carbon is discussed in relation to the effects of environmental variables and growth phase upon the balance of lipid class and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) synthesis in marine microalgae.