Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 166, Issue 1, pp 146–158 | Cite as

Lipids Containing Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Synthesized by Zygomycetes Grown on Glycerol

  • Stamatia Bellou
  • Anna Moustogianni
  • Anna Makri
  • George AggelisEmail author


Several strains of Zygomycetes cultivated on glycerol produced mycelia rich in lipids containing higher amounts of neutral lipids (NL) than glycolipids plus sphingolipids and phospholipids (P), while biosynthesis of P in Mortierella ramanniana, Mucor sp., and Cunninghamella echinulata occurred though NL accumulation process was in progress. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) concentration gradually decreased in all lipid fractions of M. ramanniana during growth. In contrast, in C. echinulata concentration of both linoleic and γ-linolenic acids increased with time, especially in P. Taking for granted that the main function of PUFA is associated to their participation in mycelial membranes, we could suppose that biosynthesis of these fatty acids is associated to mycelial growth. However, this is accurate only for some Zygomycetes, e.g., M. ramanniana. On the contrary, PUFA biosynthesis in C. echinulata persists after growth cessation, suggesting that in this species biosynthetic ability is not a strictly growth-associated process. Phosphatidyl-inositol and phosphatidyl-choline were the major P classes in C. echinulata and M. ramanniana, respectively. In M. ramanniana, a decrease of PUFA concentration was noticed even when mycelia were incubated in low temperature (conditions that normally favor PUFA biosynthesis), indicating that PUFA biosynthesis in this fungus is associated to primary metabolism.


Zygomycetes Neutral lipids Polar lipids Fatty acids distribution γ-linolenic acid Bioreactor Temperature 


X (g/l)

Total dry biomass

L/X (%)

Lipids in dry biomass


Lipid-free biomass


Single cell oil


Neutral lipids


Glycolipids plus Sphingolipids












Phosphatidic acid




Gas chromatography


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


γ-linolenic acid



Financial support was provided by the project “Synergasia” entitled “BIOREF—Development of a biorefinery for the valorization of residues produced during biodiesel manufacture towards the production of biodegradable polymers and other high added value products” funded by the Greek Secretariat of Research and Technology and the society PETTAS S.A.

Supplementary material

12010_2011_9411_MOESM1_ESM.doc (8.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 8494 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stamatia Bellou
    • 1
  • Anna Moustogianni
    • 1
  • Anna Makri
    • 1
  • George Aggelis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Unit of Microbiology, Division of Genetics, Cell and Development Biology, Department of BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece

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