Project title: Growth kinetics of oleaginous microorganisms and biosynthesis dynamics of poly- unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (code C-169)
Project duration: 2007- 2010
Budget: € 24.000
Foundation: University of Patras

Short project description

The aim of this project is to identify and study poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) biosynthesis in oleaginous Zygomycetes. For this reason we will study the role of PUFAs and the factors which control PUFAs biosynthesis and their migration among polar and neutral lipids (triacylglyceroles- TAGs) in the microbial cell during growth, PUFAs biosynthesis, lipid accumulation and lipid turnover periods. Oleaginous microorganisms are found in the forefront of basic and applied research since ’70, because of the great interest of single cell oils for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, clinic diet and food industry. These microorganisms are an important source of PUFAs, competitive of conventional sources (such as animals or plants) which are extremely limited.
PUFAs are the biosynthetic precursors of prostaglandins, prostacyclins and thromboxanes, hormones which are of great biological importance and protect against cardiovascular diseases. These hormones are involved in platelets thrombosis/ dispersion process, blood system and cardiovascular protection from atherosclerosis. In particular, the presence of PUFAs in daily diet has a reductive effect on the concentration of low and very low density lipoproteins (L.D.L. and V.L.D.L.) in blood with a parallel increase of high density lipoproteins (H.D.L.). Some PUFAs, such as γ-linolenic acid (GLA), display selective anticancer activity. Nowadays, some pharmaceutical supplements, which contain PUFAs, are used in infants’ diet since they have been proved indispensable for brain development

Project aims

Current research hopes to clarify the process of:
(a) Fungal growth dependence on primary PUFAs biosynthesis
(b) PUFAs migration from phospholipids of fungal membranes to reserved TAGs during lipogenesis
(c) PUFAs migration from reserved TAGs to phospholipids of fungal membrane during reserve lipid turnover.