The occurrence and biosynthesis of gamma-linolenic acid in a blue-green alga,Spirulina platensis

B W Nichols, B J Wood


The acyl-lipid and fatty acid composition of six blue-green algae, namely,Spirulina platensis, Myxosarcina chroococcoides, Chlorogloea fritschii, Anabaena cylindrica, Anabaena flos-aquae, and Mastigocladus laminosus is reported.All contain major proportions of mono-and digalactosyl diglyceride, sulfoquinovosyl diglyceride, and phosphatidyl glycerol, but none possess lecithin, phophatidyl ethanolamine, or phosphatidyl inositol. Trans-3-hexadecenoic acid was absent from all extracts.The analyses provide further evidence that there is no general chemical or physical requirement for any specific fatty acid in photosynthesis. S. platensis is unique among photoautotrophic organisms so far studied, containing major quantities of gamma-linolenic acid (6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid). This acid is synthesized by the alga by direct desaturation of linoleic acid and is primarily located in the mono- and digalactosyl diglyceride fractions.The possible phylogenetic relationship betweenS. platensis and other plant forms is discussed.


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