Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA)

Definition - What does Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA) mean?

A phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) is a component of microbial organisms that is used to verify the presence of bacteria and provide empirical information regarding the variety or characteristics of bacteria such as their biomass, physiology, taxonomy and overall community composition. Phospholipid fatty acids play a role in testing for microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).

Corrosionpedia explains Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA)

All microbial cell membranes are composed of two adjacent layers. These two layers are the fatty acid tails and the phosphate. Fatty acid tails face inwards from the molecular surface while phosphates face outwards. These two layers are the components of phospholipids.

Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) involves the degradation of metallic components due to microbes in the environment where the metal is situated. Microorganisms influence the kinetic rate of corrosion due to their adherence to a metal's surface and the formation of biofilms. Microbiologically influenced corrosion can be reduced by regular mechanical cleaning and maintenance, chemical treatment with biocides and draining and dry-storage of the affected metal components. However, these procedures are typically performed only after a thorough analysis has been made to determine the microbial population levels by evaluating their phospholipid fatty acid content.

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