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Lipid Essentials

Structures, Occurrence, Basic Biochemistry and Function

Lipids are a diverse range of compounds for which no internationally agreed definition exists. In our articles A Lipid Primer and on nomenclature, 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 vital and fascinating natural compounds is presented here. In particular, the first two articles listed below describe in general terms what lipids are and why they are so important in nature.

cartoonFurther documents in the 'Lipid Essentials' topic of this website are grouped into four main sections according to chemical structures, and they can be addressed from the following links -

Related lipids are grouped together as far as possible in these web pages, but there are some that do not fit easily into any group and most of these are listed with the simple lipids for reasons of practical convenience.

These essays are aimed at generalists or those who are new to lipid science, especially young scientists - not experts in particular disciplines. My approach based on individual lipid classes has limitations, not least in that the metabolism of different lipids is highly integrated, but the reading lists at the end of each web page may compensate for this and provide for those who require a more specialized knowledge. You will not find much on nutritional aspects. These web pages are updated regularly as new information becomes available, so the author considers them to be a work in progress that will never be completed. Our Literature Survey pages contain comprehensive lists of those publications consulted during the writing of this section of the site.

I can recommend the following websites that provide complementary information to this - Lipid Maps - lipid systematics and structures - lipidomics; - lipid structures and composition; PhyloFAdb - phylogenetic relationships between fatty acids and plants.

Lipid listings Credits/disclaimer Updated: January 10th, 2020 Author: William W. Christie LipidWeb icon