Letter | Published:

Growth and membrane lipid properties of Acholeplasma laidlawii B lacking fatty acid heterogeneity

Naturevolume 272pages645647 (1978) | Download Citation



THE lipids of biological membranes are generally highly heterogeneous in both head group and fatty acid composition. The membrane lipids of most organisms contain an assortment of fatty acids of various hydrocarbon chain lengths and configurations; the cytoplasmic membrane lipids of Escherichia coli, for example, contain saturated, cis-monounsaturated and cis-cyclopropane fatty acids of 14–19 carbons1. To date, the role(s) of this fatty acid heterogeneity remains largely unclear. We report here that by using an antilipogenic compound and by adding a single fatty acid to the culture medium of the simple cell wall-less procaryote Acholeplasma laidlawii B, it is possible essentially to abolish lipid fatty acid heterogeneity without any obvious effects on cell growth. Furthermore, the membrane lipids of cells cultured in these conditions show a greatly sharpened thermotropic gel-to-liquid crystalline phase transition, indicating that neither fatty acid heterogeneity nor a low-cooperativity lipid-phase transition are essential for proper membrane function in this organism.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Weinbaum, G. & Panos, C. J. Bact. 92, 1576–1577 (1966).

  2. 2

    Omura, S. et al. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 6, 207–215 (1974).

  3. 3

    Breusch, F. L. & Keskin, H. Arch. Biochem. 28, 305–318 (1948).

  4. 4

    Saito, Y. & McElhaney, R. N. J. Bact. 132, 485–496 (1977).

  5. 5

    McElhaney, R. N. J. molec. Biol. 84, 145–157 (1974).

  6. 6

    Bligh, E. G. & Dyer, W. J. Can. J. Biochem. Physiol. 37, 911–917 (1959).

  7. 7

    Shaw, N., Smith, P. F. & Koostra, W. L. Biochem. J. 107, 329–333 (1968).

  8. 8

    Baldassare, J. J., Rhinehart, K. B. & Silbert, D. F. Biochemistry 15, 2986–2994 (1976).

Download references

Author information


  1. Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2H7



  1. Search for JOHN R. SILVIUS in:

  2. Search for RONALD N. MCELHANEY in:

About this article

Publication history



Issue Date



Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.