Lipid of the Month

Each month we highlight a lipid of scientific interest. The LIPID MAPS® Lipid of the Month Archive lists lipids highlighted from 2015 - present.

March 2023

Lipid of the month Octan-3-one

With the possible exception of cholesterol, it’s not often for a lipid to be in the news, but octan-3-one managed this recently thanks to its apparent nematicidal role in the oyster mushroom.

Predictably headlines varied from the measured  “The mushroom that is both delicacy and predator” to the somewhat less measured “Killer mushroom releases fungus ‘nerve gas’ to paralyse victims before ‘rapid death’”.

The oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus is a delicacy in some parts of the world, naturally living on decaying wood which is poor in nitrogen.  It’s known to kill nematodes, and ingest them as a source of nitrogen. A recent paper in Sci Adv1 has identified octan-3-one as the compound responsible for dispatching the nematodes. Released from fragile structures called toxocysts, octan-3-one causes paralysis and cell death in the nematode by disrupting cell membrane integrity.

Octan-3-one is not unique to P. ostreatus, it is a volatile, scented molecule used as a pheromone in insects and plants2 and found in other fungi too. A question that remains to be answered though, is how the toxocyst stores a compound which disrupts nematode cell membranes, without causing damage to its own.


  • A carnivorous mushroom paralyzes and kills nematodes via a volatile ketone
    Sci Adv
    DOI 10.1126/sciadv.ade4809
  • Freshly Distilled Oil of the Leaves of Rasmarinus Officianalis L Contained 3-Octanone
    Z Naturforsch
    DOI 10.1515/znc-1978-1-226

Lipid of the Month Archive