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Comprehensive Analysis of Microbial Lipids in Environmental Samples Through HPLC-MS Protocols

  • Lars WörmerEmail author
  • Julius S. Lipp
  • Kai-Uwe Hinrichs
Protocol
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)

Abstract

Diversification and fine-tuning of membrane lipids has been a crucial step in allowing taxonomic diversification of microbial life, ecological expansion into new or changing habitats, and exploration of novel resources. This results in a strong association between lipid composition and taxonomy, environmental conditions, and some particular metabolic activities, an association that is the base of the lipid biomarker concept. Applied to environmental and geological samples, lipid biomarkers are able to provide a wealth of information: recalcitrant apolar lipids and relatively labile intact polar lipids can be informative on geological and biological timescales, respectively. We here provide an overview of the current state of lipid biomarker analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS), with an emphasis on applications to complex environmental samples. Coupled to mass spectrometry through electrospray ionization, normal-phase or hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography provides straightforward analysis of intact polar lipids (IPLs) according to their headgroups. Implementation of reversed-phase separation, on the other hand, offers to dramatically expand the analytical window of LC-MS amenable lipids and besides IPLs may, for example, target apolar glycerolipids, quinones, pigments, and bacteriohopanepolyols. An outlook to the potential of ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry to revolutionize several aspects of lipid biomarker analysis in the near future is also provided.

Keywords:

GDGT HPLC Intact polar lipid IPL Lipid biomarker Lipid fingerprinting Liquid chromatography Mass spectrometry 

Abbreviations

APCI

Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization

ASE

Accelerated solvent extraction

BHP

Bacteriohopanepolyol

DCM

Dichloromethane

ESI

Electrospray ionization

GDGT

Glyceroldialkylglyceroltetraether

HILIC

Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography

HPLC

High-performance liquid chromatography

IPA

Isopropanol

IPL

Intact polar lipid

IS

Internal standard

LC

Liquid chromatography

LDI

Long-chain diol index

MeCN

Acetonitrile

MeOH

Methanol

MRM

Multiple reaction monitoring

MS

Mass spectrometry

MS/MS

Tandem mass spectrometry

NP

Normal phase

RP

Reversed phase

SST

Sea surface temperature

TCA

Trichloroacetic acid

TEX86

Tetraether index of lipids with 86 carbons

TLC

Thin-layer chromatography

UHPLC

Ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography

UK’37

Alkenone unsaturation index

v

Volume

wt%

% Weight

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Wörmer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julius S. Lipp
    • 1
  • Kai-Uwe Hinrichs
    • 1
  1. 1.Organic Geochemistry GroupMARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, and Department of Geosciences, University of BremenBremenGermany

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