- The very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (VLC-PUFA), arachidonic acid (ARA, 20:4omega-6) is a component of neuron tissues such as brain and retina cells and a primary substrate for the biosynthesis of biologically active eicosanoids. The green freshwater microalga Parietochloris incisa (Trebouxiophyceae) has been shown to accumulate an extraordinary high content of ARA-rich triacylglycerols. It was thus interesting to characterize the genes involved in lipid biosynthesis in this alga. We report here the identification of a cDNA encoding for a P. incisa PUFA elongase (PiELO1) and demonstrate that the expression of PiELO1 in yeast Saccharomyces cereviseae confers its elongase activity on C18 6 PUFA. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that PiELO1 is highly similar to functionally characterized 6 PUFA elongase genes from other green algae and lower plants. Quantitative real-time PCR expression studies showed that PiELO1 is upregulated under nitrogen starvation, the condition triggering and enhancing storage oil and ARA accumulation in P. incisa.