- The effects of biomass concentration and growth temperature on the molecular species composition of the major galactolipids of the red microalga Porphyridium cruentum Nag. were detmined. At lower biomass concentrations, the Δ17 desaturation of arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (20: 5) was enhanced in both prokaryotic-type and eukalyotic-type molecular species of monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol. We suggest that chloroplastic Δ17 desaturation is correlated with the availability of light. A reduction in the growth temperature led to an increase in the proportion of the eukalyotic molecular species of MGDG, especially for 20: 5/20: 5 MGDG, These results suggest that this molecular species, and perhaps eukaryotic molecular species in general, may play a role in the adaptation of cells to low growth temperatures.