Phospholipid Fatty Acid Analysis

Phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) are key components of microbial cellular membranes from bacteria to plants and animals. PLFA analysis is a technique widely used for estimation of the total microbial biomass and community composition of the living microbiota in soils, drinking waters, groundwaters, sediments and biomats. Creative Biogene is a leading company offering the high-quality PLFA analysis services.

PLFA analysis provides direct information on the entire microbial community in three key areas: 

• Population “Fingerprint” —PLFA biomarkers have been extensively used in a range of ecosystems to identify the presence or absence of important microbial functional groups such as different bacterial groups, actinomycetes, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, rhizobia, protozoa, etc.

PLFA biomarkers Designations Sample origin
Straight‐chain saturated fatty acids

14:0; 15:0; 16:0; 17:0; 18:0General bacterial markerPure cultures; soil
Methyl‐branched fatty acids  
10Me16:0; 10Me17:0; 10Me18:0Actinomycetes (Actinobacteria)Pure cultures; soil
Monounsaturated fatty acids

14:1ω5c; 15:1; 15:1ω6c; 16:1ω7t; 16:1ω9c; 16:1ω11c; 17:1; 18:1ω5c; 19:1ω9c; 19:1ω12c; 20:1ω9c; 20:1ω9t; 22:1ω9c; 22:1ω9tGram‐negative bacteriaPit mud; pure cultures; soil
16:1ω5cArbuscular mycorrhizal fungiPlant roots; soil
16:1ω7cGram‐negative bacteriaPure cultures; soil
 Cyanobacteria; diatomsFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats; pond water
16:1ω5t; 16:1ω8cType I methanotrophs (Gammaproteobacteria)Pure cultures; soil
17:1ω8; 17:1ω5Sulphate‐reducing bacteriaMicrobial mats
18:1ω7cCyanobacteria; diatomsFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats; pond water
 Gram‐negative bacteriaPure cultures; soil
18:1ω7tGram‐negative bacteriaPure cultures; soil
18:1ω8cType II methanotrophs (Alphaproteobacteria) Methylocystaceae & BeijerinckiaceaePure cultures; soil
 18:1ω9cCyanobacteria; green algaeFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats; pond water
 FungiPure cultures; soil
Hydroxy‐substituted fatty acids

2OH 12:0; 3OH 12:0; 2OH 14:0; 3OH 14:0; 2OH 16:0; 2OH 18:0Gram‐negative bacteriaSoil
Cyclopropyl saturated fatty acids

 cy17:0; cy19:0Gram‐negative bacteriaPure cultures; soil
 Anaerobic bacteriaSoil
Terminally branched fatty acids

a13:0; i13:0; i14:0; i15:0; a15:0; i16:0; a17:0; i17:0; a18:0; i18:0Gram‐positive bacteriaPit mud; pure cultures; soil
Polyunsaturated fatty acids

18:2ω6c; 18:3ω6cSaprotrophic fungiPure cultures; soil
 Cyanobacteria; diatomsFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats; pond water
 18:3ω3FungiBiofilms; pure cultures; soil
 CyanobacteriaFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats
18:2ω9cSaprotrophic fungiSoil
16:2ω4; 16:2ω6; 16:2ω7; 16:3ω3; 16:3ω4; 16:4ω3; 16:4ω1; 18:4ω3; 18:5ω3; 20:4ω6; 20:5ω3; 22:5ω3; 22:6ω3Cyanobacteria; diatoms; green algaeFreshwater microalgae; microbial mats

• Microbial Biomass — PLFA decomposes relatively quickly upon cell death when individual organisms (especially bacteria and fungi) die, so the remaining phospholipid become a powerful tool for estimating living microbial biomass.
• Physiological status and metabolic activity—The composition of fatty acids can be used to indicate physiological status and metabolic activity in the microbial community. Microbes modify specific PLFA biomarkers during periods of slow growth or in response to environmental stress providing an index of their health and metabolic activity.

Creative Biogene is the premier institution to provide professional and comprehensive phospholipid fatty acid analysis services. We have years of experience to meet your specific project needs to add value to your research project.

1. Willers, C. , Rensburg, P. J. J. V. , & Claassens, S. . (2015). Phospholipid fatty acid profiling of microbial communities–a review of interpretations and recent applications. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 119(5), 12.
2. Quideau, S. A. , Mcintosh, A. C. S. , Norris, C. E. , Lloret, E. , Swallow, M. J. B. , & Hannam, K. . (2016). Extraction and analysis of microbial phospholipid fatty acids in soils. Journal of Visualized Experiments Jove, 2016(114).
3. Buyer, J. S. , & Sasser, M. . (2012). High throughput phospholipid fatty acid analysis of soils. Applied Soil Ecology, 61(Complete), 127-130.
4. Fan, F. , Zhang, B. , & Morrill, P. L. . (2017). Phospholipid fatty acid (plfa) analysis for profiling microbial communities in offshore produced water. Marine Pollution Bulletin, S0025326X17305258.

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