Environmental change has had a profound influence on all life on Earth. While public discourse usually focuses on this process’ large-scale impacts, its effects on the molecular level are no less consequential. The present review explores the usefulness of biochemistry for assessing organisms’ and environments’ adaptations to climate change by studying environmental lipidomics (Koelmel et al., 2020). This discipline examines the dynamics of lipids, unique biomolecules that participate in diverse biological mechanisms, offering vital insights into past and ongoing changes.
Lipidomics can advance scientific understanding of environmental change in multiple ways. Studying lipids can reveal the effects of environmental pollution, whether directly through oxidative damage to cellular lipids and the proliferation of oxylipins or indirectly through obesity caused by xenobiotic-induced lipid dysregulation. Such lipid biomarkers are invaluable for assessing the effect of pollution on wildlife. In particular, lipidomics studies of marine life can shed light on nutrition changes in seafood, which might stem from pollution-related lipid deficits. Because lipids are ubiquitous and can persist in fossils, biogeochemists can use lipidomics to study past environmental changes, deriving useful insights for examining contemporary processes. Insights acquired through lipidomics can help combat environmental damage on the level of individual organisms (informing medical interventions) and environments (augmenting bioremediation with lipid-based mechanisms). Lipids may also be used for biofuel production, which presents a promising avenue for reducing environmental damage. As the field continues to advance, further uses for lipidomics may emerge.
Environmental lipidomics studies the interactions between cellular lipids within organisms of different species and a continually evolving natural environment. Advances in laboratory technology make it possible to study cellular lipids and their dynamics in extensive detail, revealing the various effects of environmental change on cells, organisms, and environments. Insights derived from lipidomics studies can enable effective medical and environmental interventions and the development of superior biotechnologies. As such, lipidomics represents an essential part of the toolset that can be used to study and control ecological transformation.
Koelmel, J. P., Napolitano, M. P., Ulmer, C. Z., Vasiliou, V., Garrett, T. J., Yost, R. A., Prasad, M. N. V., Godri Pollitt, K. J., & Bowden, J. A. (2020). Environmental lipidomics: Understanding the response of organisms and ecosystems to a changing world. Metabolomics, 16(5), 56, pp. 1-22. Web.