William W. Christie

William W. Christie

A Lipid Primer

Structures, Occurrence, Basic Biochemistry and Function

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 structures, occurrence, composition, chemical and physical properties, basic biochemistry and function 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.

The basics:    what is a lipid What is a lipid?
what lipids do What lipids do - their biological functions
  lipid composition Lipid compositions of animal tissues
lipid composition Lipid compositions of plants and microorganisms
nomenclature Lipids: definitions, classification and nomenclature

cartoonFurther 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.

W.W. Christie

James Hutton Institute (and Mylnefield Lipid Analysis), Invergowrie, Dundee (DD2 5DA), Scotland.

Updated: August 9th, 2014 Credits/disclaimer XHTML Validated by W3C.org