Products: Sherlock Microbial ID System: PLFA Analysis & Marine Oil Analysis (Agilent Hardware)

Phospholipid Fatty Acid Analysis (PLFA)

Soil phospholipid fatty acid analysis can provide a real-time snapshot of the soil microbial community (soil microbiota) structure. The soil microbiota is responsible for many ecosystem functions such as plant growth regulation, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. Additionally, the microbiota has the ability to degrade environmental pollutants, such as PAHs and PCBs. The microbiota is highly sensitive to soil-altering processes (degradative or beneficial) and changes can guide appropriate management procedures (conservation or restoration).

PLFA analysis is a widely-used technique for estimation of the total biomass and to observe broad changes in the soil microbiota composition. Multiple different Gas Chromatography (GC) and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS) methods and instrument types have been used to determine PLFA profiles. However, most of this analysis is performed manually, time consuming and potentially error-prone.

In 2012, MIDI released the first Sherlock™ PLFA Method and Analysis Package (PLFAD1) in conjunction with a new high-throuput PLFA method co-developed between MIDI, Inc. and the USDA-ARS (Buyer and Sasser, 2012). The PLFA package is an optional add-on to the MIDI Sherlock Microbial Identification System. In 2017, an improved version (PLFAD2) was released. MIDI Inc.'s Sherlock PLFA Analysis Software automatically names all the PLFAs in a sample, categorizes them by microbial origin (e.g. Actinomycetes) and can perform biomass calculations and ratios (e.g. Fungi:Bacteria).

Fatty Acid and Omega-3 Analysis of Marine Oils

In 2018, MIDI released the Sherlock™ Marine Oil Analysis Package, which can be used for the automated fatty acid analysis of marine oils, including fish oil supplements. All of the same tools that are used for the PLFA Analysis can be used with the Sherlock Marine Oil Analysis Package. In addition to the automated fatty acid compound naming, quantitation with an Internal Standard (ISTD), automated calculations of key groups (e.g. Omega-3s) and various ratios (e.g. EPA:DHA) can be calculated seamlessly.

Key Features of the Sherlock PLFA & Marine Oil Analysis Packages:

  • Works for Soils and Marine Oils
  • Automated peak naming and Quantitation
  • More than 300 peer-reviewed publications
  • Works on both GC and GC-MS
  • Works with any fatty acid extraction method


Contact MIDI for further information on the Sherlock PLFA & Edible Oil Packages.

If you want to try our PLFA service, our sister company MIDI Labs offers this service.