Sterol Synthesis and Distribution and Algal Phylogeny

  • Glenn W. Patterson


The wide range of structural types of sterols in algae has been long recognized. Along with the possibility of several biosynthetic pathways, especially in the side chain biosynthesis, these different structures in the various algal taxa provide strong evidence for particular phylogenetic affiliations. As with other photosynthetic plants, all algae examined synthesize sterols through the cycloartenol pathway. During side chain alkylation, however, occurrence of both the 24 (28) pathway and the 25 (27) pathway have been demonstrated. Unlike in higher plants, 24-beta alkyl sterols are dominant in algae, although 24-alpha alkyl sterols are known in some diatoms. Most of the algal divisions can be easily characterized on the basis of their sterol composition For instance, the red algae are unique in containing primarily cholesterol or related C-27 sterols. Blue green algae either contain no sterols or contain only small quantities of sterols. Brown algae contain almost exclusively fucosterol. Green algae are perhaps the most diverse with a very wide range of structural types that suggest phylogenetic relationships. Pyrrophyta contain sterols with an extra side chain methyl group not found in other algae. Chrysophyta appear to be a diverse group with many internal consistencies in sterol composition. As data become more accurate and more plentiful, it is clear that sterols can play an important role in determining the relationships between algae and in their evolutionary relationships with other organisms.


Brown Alga Side Chain Alkylation Sterol Composition Euglena Gracilis Sterol Synthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    G. W. Patterson, Sterols of Algae: Proceedings of International Symposium on Marine Algae of the Indian Ocean Region, Bhavnagar, India, 9–12 January, 1979, pp 37.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. R. Nes, K. Krevitz, J. Joseph, W. D. Nes, B. Harris, G. F. Gibbons, and G. W. Patterson, The phylogenetic distribution of sterols in tracheophytes, Lipids 12: 511–527 (1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    G. W. Patterson, The distribution of sterols in algae, Lipids 6: 120–127 (1970).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Anding, R. D. Brandt and G. Ourisson, Sterol biosynthesis in Euglena gracilis Z, European J. Biochem. 24: 259–263 (1971).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    V. Amico, G. Oriente, M. Piatelli, C. Tringall, E. Fattorusso, S. Magno, L. Mayol, C. Santacroce, and D. Sica, Amino acids, sugars, and sterols of some Mediterranean brown algae, Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 3: 143–146 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    B. A. Knights, Sterols in Ascophyllum nodosum, Phytochemistry 9: 903–905 (1970).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    I. Chardon-Loriaux, M. Morisaki, and N. Ikekawa, Sterol profiles of red algae, Phytochemistry 15: 723–725 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    E. Fattorusso, S. Magno, C. Santacroce, D. Sica, G. Impellizzeri, S. Mangiofico, M. Piatelli, and S. Sciuto, Sterols of Mediterranean Florideophyceae Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 4: 135–138 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    E. Fattorusso, S. Magno, C. Santacroce, D. Sica, G. Impellizzeri, S. Mangiafico, G. Oriente, M. Piatelli, and S. Sciuto, Sterols of some red algae, Phytochemistry 14: 1579–1592 (1975).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    A. Alcaide, M. Barbier, P. Potier, A. M. Magueur, and J. Teste. Nouveau resultats sur les sterols des algues rouges. Phytochemistry 8: 2301–2303 (1969).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    D. Raederstorff and M. Rohmer, Sterols of the unicellular algae Nematochrysopsis roscoffensis and Chrysotilla lamellosa: Isolation of (24E)-24-n-propylidinecholesterol and 24-n-propylcholesterol. Phytochemistry 23: 2835–2838 (1984).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    C. J. Berenberg and G. W. Patterson, The relationship between dietary phytosterols and the sterols of wild and cultivated oysters, Lipids 16: 276–278 (1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. Rohmer and R. D. Brandt, Les sterols it leurs precursors chez Astasia longa Pringsheim, Eur. J. Biochem. 36: 446–454 (1973).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    A. R. Loeblich, Dinoflagellate physiology and bio-chemistry In: Dinoflagellates, D. L. Spector, Ed. Academic Press, New York, (1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn W. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations