Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 451–463 | Cite as

Fatty acid contents and profiles of 16 macroalgae collected from the Irish Coast at two seasons

  • Matthias SchmidEmail author
  • Freddy Guihéneuf
  • Dagmar B. Stengel


Due to the established health benefits of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), there is a globally increasing demand for alternative natural resources with appropriate fatty acid profiles. To assess the suitability of macroalgae as a source, 16 species (nine Phaeophyceae, five Rhodophyta and two Chlorophyta) were collected at two seasons (June and November) from the Irish west Coast, and total fatty acid contents and specific profiles were determined. Total fatty acid contents, expressed per percentage of dry weight, ranged from 6.4 % ± 0.3 (Pelvetia canaliculata, Phaeophyceae) to 0.8 % ± 0.2 (Porphyra dioica, Rhodophyta). Most common fatty acids were palmitic (16:0), oleic (OLE, 18:1 n-9), α-linolenic (ALA, 18:3 n-3), arachidonic (ARA, 20:4 n-6) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA, 20:5 n-3) acids. Fatty acid profiles were highly variable between and within algal groups; red and brown seaweeds were generally richer in LC-PUFA (e.g. 20:4 n-6 and 20:5 n-3), while high levels of saturated fatty acids such as palmitic acid (16:0) were observed in green species. Most omega-3 PUFA-rich species investigated had a omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio close to 1, which is favourable for human health. The two seasonal sampling times revealed significant differences in total fatty acid and 20:5 n-3 (EPA) contents, with changes depending on species, thus implying varying suitability as potential target species for EPA production. At both times of the year, Palmaria palmata was identified as most promising species as a source of 20:5 n-3 (EPA) amongst all species investigated, with levels ranging from 0.44 to 0.58 % of dry weight in June and November, respectively.


Macroalgae Fatty acid profiles LC-PUFA EPA Bioactives Seasonal variability 



This work was supported by NutraMara, the Irish Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative funded by the Irish Marine Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). The authors thank Udo Nitschke for helpful comments during the preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Schmid
    • 1
    Email author
  • Freddy Guihéneuf
    • 1
  • Dagmar B. Stengel
    • 1
  1. 1.Botany and Plant Science, School of Natural Sciences, Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy ResearchNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland

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