Lipid and carbohydrate profiling of microalgal biomass using HPAE-MS and LC-MS


Thermo Fisher Scientific


Efficient production of biodiesel requires simple, robust and accurate methods for lipid and carbohydrate profiling of biomass feedstocks. In this article, we look at the use of high performance anion-exchange chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry for high resolution separation and analysis of carbohydrates in lysed microalgal biomass. We also demonstrate that liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry is a fast and convenient approach for microalgal lipid profiling. In combination, these two approaches offer the potential for comprehensive ‘fingerprinting’ of the major components in algal biomass.


Biofuel production from algae has received increased attention in recent years as a sustainable alternative to fossil-derived fuels (1-3). Microalgae-derived biodiesel and bioethanol offer a number of advantages over first generation biofuels produced from food crops and oil seeds, which compete with food production and are increasingly seen as a poor approach to meet sustainability targets.
Algae-derived biodiesels, produced from algal lipids, primarily consist of mono-alkyl esters obtained by base, acid or enzyme catalyzed trans-esterification of triglycerides and mono-alcohols. However, the final products of biodiesel production may also include glycerol, alcohols, free fatty acids, and tri-, di- and monoglycerides, with product composition strongly dependent on the type of microalgae used and method of lipid extraction employed (4).
Profiling of lipids in algal biomass is therefore essential in order to select the most suitable feedstock for efficient biodiesel production. In particular, the determination of carbon chain length and the degree of saturation is necessary to ensure high quality biodiesel that delivers optimu ...