Currently intensive global research efforts are being made to increase and modify the accumulation of lipids, alcohols, hydrocarbons, polysaccharides, and other energy storage compounds in photosynthetic organisms, such as yeast, and bacteria. Qatar is in a unique position in the world because it has a rich biodiversity of photosynthetic micro-organisms and the climate and space to lead the world in the research and use of photosynthetic micro-organisms as a biofuel source.

Photosynthetic micro-organisms are remarkable in that they have a high photosynthetic conversion efficiency, rapid growth rate, diverse metabolic capabilities, accumulate relatively little recalcitrant biomass and are able to synthesise a variety of biological energy carriers, such as starch and lipids, that are relevant to renewable-bioenergy studies. Lipids and starch, can be converted into diesel-fuel surrogates and metabolised into a variety of biofuels.

For the study of photosynthetic micro-organism production of lipids, understanding the chemical profile of the lipids and starch in the organism's biomass is important. Triglycerides are a common lipid found in these organisms and are formed by combining glycerol with three molecules of free fatty acid (FFA). FFA profiling is valuable for large-scale production of biofuel as it provides information about the variety of FFA produced by cyanobacteria in different environments and growth conditions.

Analytical techniques such as ultra-high pressure liquid chromatography (UPLC), matrix -assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) and quadrupole - time of flight mass spectrometry (Q-TOF) are employed in this study for the profiling of FFA from olive oil. The results have shown that triglycerides and FFA can be detected, identified and quantified with great accuracy and precision using olive oil as a sample.

This work has achieved a successful profiling method to extract and separate FFA from triglycerides in olive oil. The work will be applied to the study of biofuels and measuring FFA in order to understand the lipid profiles of photosynthetic micro-organisms.


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