Fatty Acid Analysis and Soil Microbial Community Analysis

Fatty Acid Analysis

Fatty acid analysis by gas chromatography has been used commercially since the mid-1980s for microbial identification of pure cultures, direct fatty acid analysis, and soil microbial community analysis. The automated peak naming and data analysis system we use, the Sherlock™ Fatty Acid Analysis System, was developed by our sister company, MIDI, Inc.

We employ a variety of extraction methods. For non-soil samples, we use:

  • Whole-cell fatty acid (FAME) analysis: This extraction identifies fatty acids that are ester-linked, amide-linked (Anaerobes) and free fatty acids.

Soil Microbial Community Analysis

For soil microbial community analysis, PLFA is the primary method of analysis, then PLFA + NLFA. A summary of these includes:

  • Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis: This extraction identifies fatty acids that are ester-linked to phospholipids (those from the "living" microbial biomass).

  • Neutral lipid fatty acid (NLFA) analysis: This extraction identifies fatty acids that are ester-linked to triglyceride "storage" lipids, of importance are those from arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

We use the Sherlock™ Fatty Acid Analysis System and a high-throuput extraction protocol for the peak naming and data analysis, co-developed by our sister company, MIDI, Inc. (Buyer & Sasser, 2012)