## Abstract |
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In lipid biochemistry, a fundamental question is how the potential number of fatty acids increases with their chain length. Here, we show that it grows according to the famous Fibonacci numbers when cis/trans isomerism is neglected. Since the ratio of two consecutive Fibonacci numbers tends to the Golden section, 1.618, organisms can increase fatty acid variability approximately by that factor per carbon atom invested. Moreover, we show that, under consideration of cis/trans isomerism and/or of modification by hydroxy and/or oxo groups, diversity can be described by generalized Fibonacci numbers (e.g. Pell numbers). For the sake of easy comprehension, we deliberately build the proof on the recursive definitions of these number series. Our results should be of interest for mass spectrometry, combinatorial chemistry, synthetic biology, patent applications, use of fatty acids as biomarkers and the theory of evolution. The recursive definition of Fibonacci numbers paves the way to construct all structural formulas of fatty acids in an automated way.