Suitability of soxhlet extraction to quantify microalgal fatty acids as determined by comparison with in situ transesterification
McNichol, Jesse C.
MacDougall, Karen M.
Melanson, Jeremy E.
McGinn, Patrick J.
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To assess Soxhlet extraction as a method for quantifying fatty acids (FA) of microalgae, crude lipid, FA content from Soxhlet extracts and FA content from in-situ transesterification (ISTE) were compared. In most cases, gravimetric lipid content was considerably greater (up to 7-fold) than the FA content of the crude lipid extract. FA content from Soxhlet lipid extraction and ISTE were similar in 12/18 samples, whereas in 6/18 samples, total FA content from Soxhlet extraction was less than the ISTE procedure. Re-extraction of residual biomass from Soxhlet extraction with ISTE liberated a quantity of FA equivalent to this discrepancy. Employing acid hydrolysis before Soxhlet extraction yielded FA content roughly equivalent to ISTE, indicating that acidic conditions of ISTE are responsible for this observed greater recovery of FA. While crude lipid derived from Soxhlet extraction was not a useful proxy for FA content for the species tested, it is effective in most strains at extracting total saponifiable lipid. Lipid class analysis showed the source of FA was primarily polar lipids in most samples (12/18 lipid extracts contained <5% TAG), even in cases where total FA content was high (>15%). This investigation confirms the usefulness of ISTE, reveals limitations of gravimetric methods for projecting biodiesel potential of microalgae, and reinforces the need for intelligent screening using both FA and lipid class analysis.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Lipids 47 (2012): 195-207, doi:10.1007/s11745-011-3624-3.