, Volume 88, Issue 9, pp 1329-1338,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Mar 2011

A Comprehensive GC–MS Sub-Microscale Assay for Fatty Acids and its Applications


Fatty acid analysis is essential to a broad range of applications including those associated with the nascent algal biofuel and algal bioproduct industries. Current fatty acid profiling methods require lengthy, sequential extraction and transesterification steps necessitating significant quantities of analyte. We report the development of a rapid, microscale, single-step, in situ protocol for GC–MS lipid analysis that requires only 250 μg dry mass per sample. We furthermore demonstrate the broad applications of this technique by profiling the fatty acids of several algal species, small aquatic organisms, insects and terrestrial plant material. When combined with fluorescent techniques utilizing the BODIPY dye family and flow cytometry, this micro-assay serves as a powerful tool for analyzing fatty acids in laboratory and field collected samples, for high-throughput screening, and for crop assessment. Additionally, the high sensitivity of the technique allows for population analyses across a wide variety of taxa.