Yes you read the title correctly. Today’s lab post is about lipids (fats). More specifically what percent of the total biomass of algae I cultured is lipid? I have been culturing 6 one liter bottle of algae for about 5 weeks. I harvested them Monday and the total biomass was about 0.2000 g for one species, and 0.4000 g for the other species. It was a little disheartening to see the fruits (or I guess algae) of my labor centrifuged down to a tiny pellet of green in the tip of a 40 ml falcon tube, but this tiny green pellet has a lot to tell me about potential useful applications.
The cliff notes version , I disolved 30 mg of my algae in a solution and then add 1 ml of hexane. Anything that is hydrophobic will dissolve in the hexane, and I can remove it and then evaporate the hexane layer, and whatever is left in the 8ml vial is the lipids in my sample. One of my samples has 12% total lipids and the other has 16%.
One of my micro algal species is a potential candidate for biofuels, and the other is the richest natural source of the carotenoid β-carotene. Tomorrow I will do FAME to determine what fatty acids are in my samples, not just the total lipids and pigments.