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Phytochemistry. 2000 Jun;54(4):369-80.

Comparison of neutral lipid profile of various trilaminar outer cell wall (TLS)-containing microalgae with emphasis on algaenan occurrence.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Bioorganique et Organique Physique, UMR CNRS 7573, E.N.S.C.P., Paris, France.


The neutral lipid profiles of nine species of thin trilaminar outer wall (TLS)-containing freshwater and marine microalgae from the class of Chlorophyceae were studied with emphasis on the relationship between the lipid content and the occurrence of insoluble non-hydrolysable biopolymer (i.e. algaenan). All the freshwater microalgae produce a highly aliphatic algaenan. In sharp contrast, no algaenan was isolated from the two marine microalgae, Chlorella marina and Chlorella minutissima marina, supporting the absence of a close relationship between the presence of TLS and the occurrence of algaenan. High molecular weight straight-chain hydrocarbons (C23-C29) were identified in most of the algaenan-producing microalgae and in the algaenan-devoid C. minutissima marina, whereas only low molecular weight hydrocarbons were detected in algaenan-producing Scenedesmus subspicatus and in algaenan-devoid C. marina. Sterols, phytol and fatty alcohols were the major constituents of the polar fraction of the neutral lipids of all the microalgae investigated. High molecular weight saturated or mono-unsaturated alcohols were detected in C. emersonii and in all the microalgae belonging to the genus Scenedesmus. High amounts of saturated C30 and C32 alpha,omega-diols were also detected in S. subspicatus, S. armatus and S. pannonicus. Three classes of lipids were encountered in very small amounts in the medium polarity fraction of the neutral lipids of the microalgae investigated: (i) Monoesters composed predominantly of saturated C16 or C18 fatty acids and saturated C8, C16 or C18 alcohols and (ii) long-chain methyl ketones from C25 to C31 were detected in several species and (iii) methyl esters of fatty acids ranging from C16 to C28 were identified in all the microalgae. Attempts to use the neutral lipid composition and particularly the unusual long-chain lipids, as specific indicators of the occurrence of algaenan in TLS-containing microalgae were unsuccessful.

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