Exploring Phylogenetic Relationships between Hundreds of Plant Fatty Acids Synthesized by Thousands of Plants. more details ...


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Definition of Delta shorthand nomenclature

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Search Fatty Acids:

 The Systematic names provided on the main fatty page are based on the system used at Chemical Abstracts Service.  In most cases a IUPAC systematic name can also be found on the pages for individual fatty acids.

 To select a list of hydroxy fatty acids search with term 'hydroxy'.  To select a list of cyclo fatty acids search with term 'cyc'.  Other general terms are:  epoxy, yne, octadece, C24, etc. 

Search Plants

The names presented on the main Plants page are based on Tropicos ( http://www.tropicos.org/). However, clicking on a plant name will bring up a page with the name from SOFA and from TNRS, and these names are also searched from the main Plants page.

Search Literature

All fields indicated by headings are searched.  Abstracts can be searched via Advanced search. Diacritical marks such as German umlaut (ü, ä, ö) are not recorded consistently in the literature and should be searched with more than one spelling (e.g. Ölsäure = Oelsaeure or Olsaure; Aitzetmüller = Aitzetmueller or Aitzetmuller).

Literature Database Identifiers 

Information on literature at SOFA did not include titles, abstracts, etc.  To gather this information a number of databases were searched, beginning with WOS (Web of Science). Whenever possible we attempted to find a DOI because in most cases the DOI provides a link to the full text of the publication.  The DOI is presented in a separate column and is a hyperlink.  The other identifiers are entered in the column "UID".

Database Abbreviation




Digital Object Identifier



Web of Science (Thomson Reuters)




Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International



BIOSIS Citation Index (Thomson Reuters)



Food Science and Technology Abstracts



Central Food Technological Research Institute (Mysore, India)



U.S. National Library of Medicine



Information found via Google Scholar search



International Standard Book Number




PlantFAdb ID (assigned by PlantFAdb, usually indicates that a digital record or link was not found).



Unpublished datasets, if available from SOFA, includes the date and initials of individual. E.g. AK = Kurt Aitzetmueller





Definition of “Δ-Notations” from: Aitzetmüller, K., Matthäus, B. and Friedrich, H. (2003) Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 105: 92

Definition of “ Δ -Notations”


Each fatty acid (and each fatty acid partial structure) is represented by a computer-readable string of characters. – Examples:


Numbers before and after a “:” (e.g., 18:2) = basic fatty acid structure, in number of carbon atoms : number of multiple (double or triple) bonds present. (Important, please note: the two multiple bonds here can be either double or triple bonds!)


Numbers before a “:”: Length of the carbon chain (number of carbon atoms in the molecule).


Number immediately following the “:” : Number of multiple bonds in the molecule.

c (cis), t (trans), a (acetylene) = type of double or triple bond.

Δ   = indicates the position of the C-C multiple bond (double or triple bond).


Numbers after a  Δ : Position of the double or triple bond along the carbon chain, counting the COOH-group as carbon no. 1.


cy” following “:1” or “:2”: Indicates presence of a cyclopentene ring, formed by the last five carbon atoms, and with the double bond in position 2’ of the cyclopentane ring. (Note: In 18:1cy, the linear portion of the carbon chain is saturated!)


-O- before the carbon chainlength numbers: This designates an epoxy group.


-OH- before the carbon chainlength numbers: This designates a hydroxy group.


-O= before the carbon chainlength numbers: This designates a keto group.


-cpe- before the carbon chainlength numbers: This designates a cyclopropene ring. (Note: The carbon numbers are increased by 1; i.e., sterculic acid is



-cpa- before the carbon chainlength numbers: This designates a cyclopropane ring. Other rules as above under -cpe-.


Examples for “ Δ -Notations” of fatty acids, linked with their trivial names:

Linoleic acid

Vernolic acid

Agonandric acid

Stearidonic acid





18:2 Δ 9c,12c

12,13-O-18:1 Δ9c

8-OH-18:2 Δ9a,11t

18:4 Δ6c,9c,12c,15c

2-Hydroxysterculic acid

Phlomic acid

Manoaic acid





20:2 Δ 7,8allene

16:2cy Δ 6c