The Polar Lipidome of Cultured Emiliania huxleyi: A Source of Bioactive Lipids with Relevance for Biotechnological Applications


Polar lipids from microalgae have aroused greater interest as a natural source of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), an alternative to fish, but also as bioactive compounds with multiple applications. The present study aims to characterize the polar lipid profile of cultured microalga Emiliania huxleyi using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS) and fatty acids (FA) analysis by gas chromatography (GC-MS). The lipidome of E. huxleyi revealed the presence of distinct n-3 PUFA (40% of total FA), namely docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) and stearidonic acid (18:4n-3), which give this microalga an increased commercial value as a source of n-3 PUFA present in the form of polar lipids. A total of 134 species of polar lipids were identified and some of these species, particularly glycolipids, have already been reported for their bioactive properties. Among betaine lipids, the diacylglyceryl carboxyhydroxymethylcholine (DGCC) class is the least reported in microalgae. For the first time, monomethylphosphatidylethanolamine (MMPE) has been found in the lipidome of E. huxleyi. Overall, this study highlights the potential of E. huxleyi as a sustainable source of high-value polar lipids that can be exploited for different applications, namely human and animal nutrition, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.



subject category

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Aveiro, SS; Melo, T; Figueiredo, A; Domingues, P; Pereira, H; Maia, IB; Silva, J; Domingues, MR; Nunes, C; Moreira, ASP

our authors


This research was funded by the project Coccolitho4BioMat (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031032), funded by FCT/MCT (Portugal) through national funds and, where applicable, cofinanced by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020. This work was also funded by national funds (OE), through FCT-Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia, I.P., in the scope of the framework contract foreseen in the numbers 4, 5, and 6 of the article 23, of the Decree-Law 57/2016, of August 29, changed by Law 57/2017, of July 19. The authors are grateful to FCT/MCTES (Portugal) for the financial support to CICECO (UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020), QOPNA (UID/QUI/00062/2019), LAQV-REQUIMTE (UIDB/50006/2020), CESAM (UIDB/50017/2020 and UIDP/50017/2020), RNEM (LISBOA-01-0145-FEDER-402-022125) and CCMAR (UIDB/04326/2020).

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