SUMMARY: The lipids of soil micro-organisms harvested from simple and complex media varied from 2 to 20% in bacteria, 10 to 20% in fungi, 2·5 to 15% (w/w) in algae. The bulk of the lipid usually consisted of polar compounds; paraffinic hydrocarbons comprised 0·008 to 2·7% in bacteria, 0·04 to 0·7% in fungi, 0·08 to 2·9% (w/w) in algae. Lipid contents of algae were more affected by growth medium composition than were those of the bacteria and fungi. Gas–liquid chromatography showed that the hydrocarbons were paraffins in the range C. The hydrocarbon patterns varied with species and growth medium. A peak in the range C was usual in bacteria with sometimes a minor peak in the range C. The fungi exhibited slightly more stable hydrocarbon patterns (except ) than bacteria and most showed major and minor paraffin peaks in similar regions.

The algae showed a peak at C regardless of the growth medium but showed an increase in C and C paraffin content when grown with acetate. The ratio of paraffin chains consisting of odd numbers of carbon atoms to those containing even numbers of carbon atoms was around unity for bacteria and fungi, also for when it was grown on CO as sole carbon source. The sp. and (grown with CO plus acetate) contained predominantly C paraffins.


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