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Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography-High Resolution Tandem Mass Spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS/MS) for metabolomics and identification of bioactive molecules

English title Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography-High Resolution Tandem Mass Spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS/MS) for metabolomics and identification of bioactive molecules
Applicant Turlings Théodoor
Number 183365
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Institut de Biologie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2020
Approved amount 310'000.00
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All Disciplines (7)

Molecular Biology
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Environmental Research

Keywords (4)

biomarkers; UHPLC-HRMS/MS; metabolomics; chemical analytical service

Lay Summary (French)

L’acquisition d’un nouveau spectromètre de masse de pointe permettra à la Plateforme Neuchâteloise de Chimie Analytique (NPAC) d’effectuer des analyses chimiques à haute résolution et de gagner considérablement en sensibilité et fréquence d’échantillonnage.
Lay summary
La Plateforme Neuchâteloise de Chimie Analytique (NPAC) fournit des services d’analyses chimiques à toutes les universités suisses, aux institutions de recherche fédérales et à l’industrie. De plus, elle collabore aussi avec des partenaires étrangers. Depuis sa création en 2013, elle a réalisé plus de 100’000 analyses et a contribué à plus de 90 publications scientifiques au travers de nombreux projets de recherche en biologie, chimie et hydrogéologie. Pour faire face à la demande croissante d’analyses et pour améliorer le niveau de performance, l’achat d’un appareil de dernière génération s’imposait, dans ce cas un spectromètre de masse en tandem à haute résolution couplé à un chromatographe en phase liquide (UHPLC-HRMS/MS). Avec le nouvel instrument il sera possible d’augmenter le niveau de sensibilité d’un ordre de grandeur au minimum et d’améliorer le taux d’identification de molécules inconnues. Cela ouvrira aussi la porte à de nouvelles options telles que la construction de réseaux moléculaires et l’analyse métabolomique de métabolites primaires etc. L’instrument  permettra à la plateforme de rester compétitive et de maintenir son excellente réputation au niveau national et international.

Les services offerts par le NPAC ont un impact considérable sur une multitude de domaines de recherche. Cela concerne non seulement la recherche fondamentale, mais aussi la recherche appliquée, comme par exemple la détection de traces de pesticides tels que les néonicotinoïdes ou l’analyse des composés de défense des plantes cultivées contre les insectes ravageurs.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.12.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Two new analytical instruments for the NPAC C3E Newsletter 2019/20120 UniNE International 2020
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) The NPAC will upgrade its machine park with an UHPLC- High Resolution Tandem Mass Spectrometer C3E Newsletter 2017/2018 UniNE International 2019

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
155781 RNAi-controlled multitrophic processing of plant secondary metabolites 01.02.2015 SNSF Starting Grants
160162 Beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA) as a plant-produced priming agent: Biosynthesis, regulation and perception 01.05.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
175774 Perception and signalling of UV-B radiation in plants 01.07.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
176191 Role of Plastoglobule Proteins in Photosynthesis and Plastoquinone Pool Regulation 01.03.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163424 Localisation and dynamics of free and bound 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) pools in Arabidopsis 01.07.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169842 Integrating resistance and tolerance to parasitic infection with life-history theory 01.11.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
162604 Lif3web: The present and future spatial structure of tri-trophic networks 01.01.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169700 Comparative analysis of secondary metabolism in Caenorhabditis nematodes 01.01.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
162860 Agricultural practices and the cascading effects of apparent competition: A case study of trophic interactions on cultivated maize and wild lima bean plants. 01.10.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163334 Ecology and evolution of olfactory signalling in the deceptive pollination of Arum maculatum: mimicry and local adaptation 01.03.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
177052 Functional ecology and genetics of plant microbiome interactions linked to pseudomonads 01.12.2018 COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
179481 PhytoChemAlp: Assessing the causes and consequences of phytochemical diversity 01.06.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
160786 Sugar wars: Glucose-mediated activation, neutralization and re-activation of defensive metabolites in a soil tritrophic system 01.10.2015 Sinergia
166632 Exploring the Chemical Ecology of Gastropod-Insect-Plant Interactions 01.06.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
173265 The genetic basis of rapid plant pathogen evolution 01.08.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169278 Manipulation of plant defenses by insect eggs 01.01.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)


The Neuchâtel Platform for Analytical Chemistry (NPAC) provides chemical analytical services for all Swiss universities, federal research institutions and industries. NPAC is a spin-off of the NCCR Plant Survival (2001-2013), and was initially created in 2010 to provide chemical analytical services for the Swiss Plant Science Web. Since its creation, it has performed more than 100’000 analyses and has made important contributions to numerous research projects in biology, chemistry and hydrogeology, resulting in more than 90 peer-reviewed publications. The performance of NPAC is widely recognized among the plant and animal science communities. An evaluation by SEFRI/SNSF in 2014 gave NPAC an A-rating as an infrastructure of national importance. As is apparent from the numerous projects that we list in this proposal and from the various support letters from satisfied colleagues (see annex), the service provided by NPAC has considerable impact on a multitude of research fields.NPAC now operates at full capacity, but to handle the increasing demand for analyses and to further improve our level of performance, the latest state-of-the-art mass spectrometry-based technology is needed. Most (>80%) of the analyses that are currently performed involve liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and we wish to specifically increase our capacities in this type of service. There has been rapid progress in new mass spectrometry technologies and major advances have been made in terms of sensitivity, speed of acquisition, selectivity and identification capacity. Currently, the NPAC houses two triple quadrupole and one quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometers. Yet, they have clear limitations for the challenging metabolomics applications that our collaborators request more and more frequently. The envisioned purchase of an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-high resolution tandem mass spectrometer (UHPLC-HRMS/MS) will allow us to drastically increase the level of sensitivity and identification rate and to expand our metabolomics capacities to a new level of performance. In this proposal we explain our objectives for the purchase of a UHPLC-HRMS/MS system and provide details on how such a machine can be of service to numerous research groups throughout Switzerland. The requested instrument will further enable us to help push for excellence in Swiss science and to become one of the world’s lead institutions in analytical chemistry.