Evaluation of Oil Quantities in Oleaginous Filamentous Fungi in UAE Wetlands: Potential Precursors of Next-Generation Biofuel

Maxime Merheb1, *, #, Rachel Matar1, #, Milad Soleimani2, John Marton1, Hussain Al Zouabi1, Kamel Abou Youssef1, Rawad Hodeify1, Cijo George Vazhappilly1
1 Department of Biotechnology, American University of Ras Al Khaimah AURAK, Ras Al Khaimah, P.O Box 10021, United Arab Emirates
2 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Texas at Arlington, United States

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© 2022 Merheb et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biotechnology, American University of Ras Al Khaimah AURAK, Ras Al Khaimah, P.O Box 10021, United Arab; Tel: 0527113355; E-mail:

Merheb Maxime and Matar Rachel contributed equally to this work.



Several studies have suggested that the next-generation biofuels could be produced from the lipids stored by oleaginous fungi. In these microorganisms, lipids are stored as triglycerides (biofuel precursors) converted to fatty acid mono alkyl esters. Fungal growth is very fast and is not impacted by seasonal, climate, and space variations as opposed to plants and animals. Fungi from mangrove ecosystems have not significantly been studied for oil production despite being the second largest group of marine fungi.


In the present study, we have analyzed soil samples from mangrove wetlands in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the presence of oleaginous fungal species. We have further characterized the isolated fungi through visual identification and assessed their oil content by gravimetric analysis. In addition, lipid accumulation was examined under fluorescent microscopy.


A. flavus was estimated to accumulate 25.21% (w/w) while A. niger accumulated 24.34% (w/w) of their dried biomass as lipids.


The percentages of oil content of the filamentous fungi, A. flavus, and A. niger indicate that these microorganisms are promising sources of next-generation biofuels.

Keywords: Next-generation biofuels, Oleaginous fungi, Single cell oil SCOs, Feedstock for biofuel, Aspergillus, Fungal species.