Fermentation for Lipids

As a leading CDMO in fermentation, BOC Sciences provides one-stop services to manufacture microbial fermented products such as lipids. Our lipid platform is dedicated to meet the needs of our customers in the food or nutraceutical, natural flavoring and other industries. Our scientists supports the development of new strains or fermentation processes to biosynthesize the desired natural products and to scale up production.

Learn more about Fermentation Products.


Lipids generally refer to a large class of compounds in nature that are easily dissolved in organic solvents and are not uniform in chemical composition and structure, mainly including fatty acids and their naturally occurring derivatives (such as esters or amines), as well as compounds related to their biosynthesis and function. There are some microorganisms in nature that can produce lipid, such as yeasts, molds, bacteria and algae. Under certain conditions, they use carbohydrates, hydrocarbons and common fats as carbon sources, nitrogen sources, supplemented by inorganic salts to produce fats and other commercially valuable lipids. Since 1990's, the development and utilization of microorganisms for the production of functional lipids has become a hot topic such as using microbial culture to produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other high nutritional value of functional lipids.

Different types of oleaginous organisms Fig.1 Different types of oleaginous organisms (Jones, 2019)

Fermentation Production of Lipid

The process of microbial lipid production is essentially similar to the process of animal and plant lipid production, which starts from the reaction of carboxylation, catalyzed by acetyl CoA carboxylase, and then goes through many chain extensions or desaturation to complete the whole biochemical process.

Common commercial sources of DHA are deep-sea fish lipid and Marine microalgae. Heterotrophic culture of Marine microalgae using fermentation technology has a good commercial prospect. Among numerous Marine microalgae, the fermentation characteristics and lipid composition of Schizochytrium sp. are prominent. Current scientific studies have confirmed that the fermentation of Schizochytrium to produce DHA and ω-6 DPA is the result of the polyunsaturated fatty acids-polyenzyme synthetase (PUFA-PKS) system.

Advantages of Fermentation for Lipid

Microbial lipid production not only has the advantages of high lipid content, short production cycle, not affected by the season, no occupation of farmland and so on. In addition, cell fusion, cell mutagenesis and other methods can be used to make microorganisms produce high nutritional lipids or specific fatty acid composition lipids, such as EPA, DHA, and cocoa butter.


Microbial lipid is a new edible lipid resource developed after vegetable lipid and animal lipid. Microorganisms with high content of γ-linolenic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA) have been put into industrial production in several countries. In addition to producing edible lipid instead of animal and plant lipid, microbial lipid can also be used as oil source for biodiesel production. The fatty acid composition of most microbial lipid is similar to that of common vegetable lipid, with C16 and C18 fatty acids, such as oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid and stearic acid as the main components. Therefore, microbial lipid can replace vegetable lipid to produce biodiesel.


  1. Jones, A. D. et al. Microbial Lipid Alternatives to Plant Lipids. Methods Mol. Biol. 2019, 1995, 1-32.

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