Seminar, 21. May 2015, Stefan Schuster

21. May 2015, 16:15

Ernst-Abbe-Platz 2, seminar room 3423

The Fibonacci code of fatty acids and beyond

Prof. Dr. Stefan Schuster
(Dept. of Bioinformatics, FSU Jena)

Fatty acids are of crucial importance for all living beings. In lipid biochemistry, lipidomics, and many other fields, an important question is how the potential number of fatty acids increases with their chain length. Here, we show that it grows according to the famous series of Fibonacci numbers. That series is defined by a recursive equation: each number is the sum of its two predecessors. The fact that the ratio of two consecutive numbers tends to the Golden section, 1.618, implies that by investing one more carbon into a fatty acid, organisms can increase the variability of the fatty acids approximately by that factor. We extend the calculations to several types of modified (e.g., hydroxylated) fatty acids and consider cis-/trans isomerism. Our results should be of interest for mass spectrometry, combinatorial chemistry, synthetic biology, patent applications, the use of fatty acids as biomarkers and the theory of evolution.