The effect of hexavalent chromium on fatty acid composition was studied in two strains of Euglena gracilis; UTEX 753 (from the Culture Collection of Algae of Texas University, USA) and MAT (isolated from a highly polluted River). Both were grown in photoauxotrophic and photoheterotrophic conditions and exposed to two metal concentrations, one below and one above IC50. The high malondialdehyde (MDA) levels (3 to 7-fold) obtained with chromium concentration above IC50, suggested the existence of metal-induced lipid peroxidation. Total lipid content increased only with concentration below IC50, whereas it was inhibited by higher metal concentration. Photoheterotrophic control strains exhibited a significantly higher proportion of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated acids were most affected by chromium, especially those related to chloroplast structures. Ultra-structure studies showed clear thylakoid disorganization in all treated cells. The results indicate that hexavalent chromium affects levels of fatty acids, especially those related to photosynthetic activity. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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