Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are divided into n-3 and n-6 classes, are essential for good health in humans and many animals. They are metabolised to lipid mediators, such as eicosanoids, resolvins and protectins. Increasing interest has been paid to the 20 or 22 carbon very long chain PUFAs, since these compounds can be used to form lipid mediators and, thus, avoid inefficient formation of dietary plant PUFAs. The ultimate sources of very long chain PUFAs are algae, which are consumed by fish and then by humans. In this review, I describe the biosynthesis of very long chain PUFAs by algae and how this synthesis can be manipulated for commercial purposes. Ultimately, the production of algal oils is critical for ecosystems worldwide, as well as for human dietary lipids.
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