Microalgal lipid droplets: composition, diversity, biogenesis and functions

Plant Cell Rep. 2015 Apr;34(4):545-55. doi: 10.1007/s00299-014-1711-7. Epub 2014 Nov 30.


Lipid droplet is the major site of neutral lipid storage in eukaryotic cells, and increasing evidence show its involvement in numerous cellular processes such as lipid homeostasis, signaling, trafficking and inter-organelle communications. Although the biogenesis, structure, and functions of lipid droplets have been well documented for seeds of vascular plants, mammalian adipose tissues, insects and yeasts, relative little is known about lipid droplets in microalgae. Over the past 5 years, the growing interest of microalgae as a platform for biofuel, green chemicals or value-added polyunsaturated fatty acid production has brought algal lipid droplets into spotlight. Studies conducted on the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and other model microalgae such as Haematococcus and Nannochloropsis species have led to the identification of proteins associated with lipid droplets, which include putative structural proteins different from plant oleosins and animal perilipins, as well as candidate proteins for lipid biosynthesis, mobilization, trafficking and homeostasis. Biochemical and microscopy studies have also started to shed light on the role of chloroplasts in the biogenesis of lipid droplets in Chlamydomonas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins / metabolism
  • Biodiversity*
  • Lipid Droplets / metabolism*
  • Lipid Droplets / ultrastructure
  • Microalgae / metabolism*
  • Microalgae / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Organelle Biogenesis*


  • Algal Proteins