Sustainable synthesis of omega-3 fatty acid ethyl esters from monkfish liver oil

Johanna Aguilera-Oviedo, Edinson Yara-Varón, Mercè Balcells, Mercè Torres, Ramon Canela-Garayoa

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The search for economic and sustainable sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) within the framework of the circular economy is encouraged by their proven beneficial effects on health. The extraction of monkfish liver oil (MLO) for the synthesis of omega-3 ethyl esters was performed to evaluate two blending systems and four green solvents in this work. Moreover, the potential solubility of the MLO in green solvents was studied using the predictive simulation software COnductor-like Screening MOdel for Realistic Solvents (COSMO-RS). The production of ethyl esters was performed by one or two-step reactions. Novozym 435, two resting cells (Aspergillus flavus and Rhizopus oryzae) obtained in our laboratory and a mix of them were used as biocatalysts in a solvent-free system. The yields for Novozym 435, R. oryzae and A. flavus in the one-step esterification were 63, 61 and 46%, respectively. The hydrolysis step in the two-step reaction led to 83, 88 and 93% of free fatty acids (FFA) for Novozym 435, R. oryzae and A. flavus, respectively. However, Novozym 435 showed the highest yield in the esterification step (85%), followed by R. oryzae (65%) and A. flavus (41%). Moreover, selectivity of polyunsaturated fatty acids of R. oryzae lipase was evidenced as it slightly esterified docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in all the esterification reactions tested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Fungal resting cells
  • Monkfish liver oil
  • Omega-3 ethyl esters
  • Selectivity


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