, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 146-153
Date: 22 Jan 2004

Biotechnological production and applications of the ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid

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Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid composed of 22 carbon atoms and six double bonds. Because the first double bond, as counted from the methyl terminus, is at position three, DHA belongs to the so-called ω-3 group. In recent years, DHA has attracted much attention because of its beneficial effect on human health. At present, fish oil is the major source of DHA, but alternatively it may be produced by use of microorganisms. Marine microorganisms may contain large quantities of DHA and are considered a potential source of this important fatty acid. Some of these organisms can be grown heterotrophically on organic substrates without light. These processes can be well controlled and DHA with constant quality can be produced all year round. This paper reviews recent advances in the biotechnological production of DHA by marine microorganisms.