Total Fatty Acid Content Determination of Whole Microalgal Biomass Using In Situ Transesterification

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The aliphatic chains of fatty acids are the most prominent and potentially the highest value precursor constituents of algal biomass, and thus accurately quantifying the algal biomass total fatty acid content is a prerequisite for comparing algal strains, growth conditions, and processes. Direct, acid-catalyzed transesterification of whole microalgal biomass is a simple, effective, and widely used method to determine the fatty acid content in whole algal biomass. Such a direct transesterification procedure typically covers the following steps: first, solubilizing the lipids in the biomass matrix and then liberating the fatty acids to make these available for catalytic upgrading to fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs), subsequent extraction into hexane, and then quantification by gas chromatography. The method we describe here requires less than 10 mg of biomass per sample and is considered high-throughput and highly accurate.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationBiofuels from Algae: Methods and Protocols
Subtitle of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
EditorsK. Spilling
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-2700-70677


  • Fatty acid methyl ester
  • Fatty acids
  • In situ transesterification


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