A Lipid Primer

Lipids are a diverse range of compounds for which no agreed definition exists. In the first of the articles below, we define lipids as fatty acids and their derivatives, and substances related biosynthetically or functionally to these compounds. A general summary of the chemistry, occurrence, composition and biology of these essential and fascinating natural compounds is presented here. These essays are aimed at generalists - not experts in particular disciplines - but it is hoped that the reading lists at the end of each will provide for those who require a more specialized knowledge.

The first two articles listed below describe in general terms what lipids are and why they are so important in nature, while the next two outline some of the principle features of lipid compositions in animals, plants and other organisms.

Further documents are grouped into four main sections according to chemical structures, and they can be addressed from the following links -

PDF files of each topic are available for download at the end of web-pages. Related lipids are grouped together in the documents listed below, but there are shortcuts to a full list of individual lipid classes here. Analytical methods are only discussed briefly in this section, as there is much more elsewhere in the website.

Updated: June 10th, 2010