Selection of Direct Transesterification as the Preferred Method for Assay of Fatty Acid Content of Microalgae
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- Griffiths, M.J., van Hille, R.P. & Harrison, S.T.L. Lipids (2010) 45: 1053. doi:10.1007/s11745-010-3468-2
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Assays for total lipid content in microalgae are usually based on the Folch or the Bligh and Dyer methods of solvent extraction followed by quantification either gravimetrically or by chromatography. Direct transesterification (DT) is a method of converting saponifiable lipids in situ directly to fatty acid methyl esters which can be quantified by gas chromatography (GC). This eliminates the extraction step and results in a rapid, one-step procedure applicable to small samples. This study compared the effectiveness of DT in quantifying the total fatty acid content in three species of microalgae to extraction using the Folch, the Bligh and Dyer and the Smedes and Askland methods, followed by transesterification and GC. The use of two catalysts in sequence, as well as the effect of reaction water content on the efficiency of DT were investigated. The Folch method was the most effective of the extraction methods tested, but comparison with DT illustrated that all extraction methods were incomplete. Higher levels of fatty acid in the cells were obtained with DT in comparison with the extraction-transesterification methods. A combination of acidic and basic transesterification catalysts was more effective than each individually when the sample contained water. The two-catalyst reaction was insensitive to water up to 10% of total reaction volume. DT proved a convenient and more accurate method than the extraction techniques for quantifying total fatty acid content in microalgae.
KeywordsDirect transesterificationFatty acidLipidMicroalgaeSodium methoxideBF3 methanolChlorellaScenedesmusNannochloropsis
Fatty acid methyl ester