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Fatty acids from lipids of marine organisms: molecular biodiversity, roles as biomarkers, biologically active compounds, and economical aspects.

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Centre de Nantes, Laboratoire Génie Alimentaire, Département Valorisation des Produits, Institut Français pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), BP21105, 44311 Nantes 03, France.


Because of their characteristic living environments, marine organisms produce a variety of lipids. Fatty acids constitute the essential part of triglycerides and wax esters, which are the major components of fats and oils. Nevertheless, phospholipids and glycolipids have considerable importance and will be taken into account, especially the latter compounds that excite increasing interest regarding their promising biological activities. Thus, in addition to the major polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, a great number of various fatty acids occur in marine organisms, e.g. saturated, mono- and diunsaturated, branched, halogenated, hydroxylated, methoxylated, non-methylene-interrupted. Various unprecedented chemical structures of fatty acids, and lipid-containing fatty acids, have recently been discovered, especially from the most primitive animals such as sponges and gorgonians. This review of marine lipidology deals with recent advances in the field of fatty acids since the end of the 1990s. Different approaches will be followed, mainly developing biomarkers of trophic chains in marine ecosystems and of chemotaxonomic interest, reporting new structures, especially those with biological activities or biosynthetic interest. An important part of this review will be devoted to the major PUFA, their relevance to health and nutrition, their biosynthesis, their sources (usual and promising) and market.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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