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Lipidomic changes during different growth stages of Nitzschia closterium f. minutissima


Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography-Electrospray ionization-Quadrupole-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-ESI-Q-TOF–MS) is a powerful lipidomic tool. In this study, we developed a UPLC/Q-TOF–MS based method to investigate the lipid metabolomic changes in different growth phases of Nitzschia closterium f. minutissima. The data classification and biomarker selection were carried out by using multivariate statistical analysis, including principal components analysis (PCA), projection to latent structures with discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), and orthogonal projection to latent structures with discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA). We discovered that the intercellular lipid metabolites were significantly different among exponential, early stationary and late stationary phases. Thirty-one lipid molecules were selected and identified as putative biomarkers, including free fatty acid, Harderoporphyrin, phosphatidylglycerol, 1,2-diacyglycerl-3-O-4′-(N,N-trimethy)-homoserine, triacylglycerol, cholesterol, sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol, lyso-sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol, monogalactosyldiacylglycerol, digalactosyldiacylglycerol and lyso-digalactosyldiacylglycerol. These lipids have been shown previously to function in energy storage, membrane stability and photosynthesis efficiency during the growth of diatoms. Further analysis on the putative biomarkers demonstrated that nitrate starvation played critical role in the transition from exponential phase to stationary phase in N. closterium. This study is the first one to explore the lipidomic changes of microalgae in different growth phases, which promotes better understanding of their physiology and ecology.

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Ultra-performance liquid chromatography


Quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry


Tandem mass spectrometry


Total ion current chromatogram


Electrospray ionization


Principal components analysis


Projections to latent structures discriminant analysis


Orthogonal projections to latent structures discriminant analysis




Fatty acid


Free fatty acid












Lyso digalactosyldiacylglycerol


1, 2-diacyglycerl-3-O-4′-(N,N-trimethy)-homoserine


Polyunsaturated fatty acid


Saturated fatty acid


Monounsaturated fatty acid


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This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31172448), the National Sparking Plan Project of China (2011GA701002), Zhejiang Public Welfare Project, China (2010C32021), Zhejiang Natural Science Foundation, China (Y3100534 and Z3100565), Ningbo Science and Technology Research Projects, China (2011C11003 and 2010C10054), Ningbo Marine Algae Biotechnology Team, China (2011B81007), and partly sponsored by K. C. Wong Magna Fund in Ningbo University.

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Correspondence to Xiaojun Yan.

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Su, X., Xu, J., Yan, X. et al. Lipidomic changes during different growth stages of Nitzschia closterium f. minutissima. Metabolomics 9, 300–310 (2013).

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  • Nitzschia closterium f. minutissima
  • Lipidomics
  • Growth phase