Determination of microbial fatty acid profiles at femtomolar levels in human urine and the initial marine microfouling community by capillary gas chromatography-chemical ionization mass spectrometry with negative ion detection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Room temperature esterification with the electron capturing pentafluorobenzyl bromide in glass capillaries, with analysis by capillary gas-liquid chromatography coupled with chemical ionization mass spectrometry and negative ion detection in the selected ion mode, allowed detection and identification of fatty acids from microbial biofilms at the femtomolar level. This sensitivity was achieved without loss of specificity of the mass spectrometric analysis. The detection of all the fatty acids commonly associated with bacteria was quantitative and linearly related to their concentration at a sensitivity permitting detection of about 600 bacteria the size of Escherichia coli. With this technique it was possible to detect the characteristic 3-hydroxy fatty acid of the lipopolysaccharide lipid A of E. coli infecting human urine at concentrations representing 10 4 bacteria and define the community structure of the initial marine microfouling community attached to a teflon surface at concentrations below the detectability by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection.


External organisations
  • Lund University
  • Florida State University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Microbiology


  • Capillary gas chromatography, Escherichia coli, Fatty acid analysis, Femtomolar sensitivity, Initial fouling community, Negative ion mass spectormetry, Urinary tract infection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-344
JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1985 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch