How does PLFA work?
|All cells have membranes which consist mainly of phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA). PLFA break down quickly when a cell dies, so intact PLFA extracted from an environmental sample (water, soil, sediment, or Bio-Trap®) is only from living (viable) organisms and is expressed as cells per unit of sample. The chemical composition of the PLFA biomarkers differs depending on the type of organisms and therefore can be used to generate a “fingerprint” of the microbial community composition. In principle, PLFA analysis is similar to analysis of other chemical compounds: (1) PLFA biomarkers are extracted from the sample, (2) biomarkers are identified by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID), and (3) biomarkers are confirmed by mass spectroscopy (MS), if necessary.|