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A GC/Q-TOF for selective detection and accurate identification of key metabolites involved in biological and geological processes

English title A GC/Q-TOF for selective detection and accurate identification of key metabolites involved in biological and geological processes
Applicant Weisskopf Laure
Number 183379
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Département de Biologie Faculté des Sciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Biochemistry
Start/End 01.12.2018 - 30.11.2019
Approved amount 199'341.00
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All Disciplines (6)

Discipline
Biochemistry
Palaeontology
Experimental Microbiology
Geochronology
Molecular Biology
Embryology, Developmental Biology

Keywords (8)

Brain; Paleoenvironmental proxy; Lipid biomarker; Phytophatology; Bacterial volatiles; Mycorrhizal symbiosis; Auxin; Drosophila

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les organismes vivants communiquent entre eux par l’échange de composés chimiques, appelés aussi métabolites, et ces mêmes composés chimiques sont également à la base de nombreux processus cellulaires. La principale difficulté lors de l’analyse de l’ensemble de ces métabolites est que contrairement aux analyses de génomes, transcriptomes ou protéomes, les métabolites présentent une grande diversité chimique. De plus, ils sont souvent produits à faibles concentrations dans des matrices complexes, de sorte que leur détection peut s’assimiler à la recherche d’aiguilles dans des bottes de foin. Il existe néanmoins des instruments de pointe qui permettent de relever ce double défi de complexité chimique et de faible concentration, et c’est précisément ce genre d’instruments que le subside du FNS permettra aux chercheurs en biologie et en géologie de l’Université de Fribourg d’acquérir.
Lay summary

La possibilité de détecter et d’identifier avec précision les métabolites produits par différents organismes lors de leur développement ou de leur interaction avec l’environnement ou avec d’autres organismes est un prérequis pour comprendre le fonctionnement des organismes vivants. L’acquisition d’un chromatographe gazeux couplé à un spectromètre de masse à temps de vol (GC/Q-TOF) permettra d’obtenir la sélectivité et la précision de masse nécessaires à l’identification de métabolites impliqués dans des processus d’importance en biogéochimie, en neurobiologie, en biologie végétale et en microbiologie. Outre la détection de composés connus, la possibilité de déterminer avec précision la masse de ces métabolites ouvrira la porte à l’identification de molécules naturelles encore inconnues à ce jour. Qu’il s’agisse de comprendre le fonctionnement du cerveau et les disfonctionnements de la mémoire, ou qu’il s’agisse de caractériser de nouvelles molécules naturelles potentiellement utilisables comme alternatives aux pesticides, cet instrument doit permettre aux chercheurs de Fribourg et des environs non seulement de réaliser des avancées considérables dans différents domaines de la science fondamentale, mais également de contribuer à esquisser de nouvelles solutions aux problèmes de la société.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 20.11.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Endophytes and Epiphytes From the Grapevine Leaf Microbiome as Potential Biocontrol Agents Against Phytopathogens
Bruisson Sébastien, Zufferey Mónica, L’Haridon Floriane, Trutmann Eva, Anand Abhishek, Dutartre Agnès, De Vrieze Mout, Weisskopf Laure (2019), Endophytes and Epiphytes From the Grapevine Leaf Microbiome as Potential Biocontrol Agents Against Phytopathogens, in Frontiers in Microbiology, 10, 2726.

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
175587 Unconventional carbonate factories in the Eastern Mediterranean: cold water coral ecosystems and seeps 01.04.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169732 Establishment and functioning of arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis 01.10.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
165877 Impact of ABCG36 phosphorylation during root-microbe colonization 01.01.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
179310 Volatile-mediated communication between bacteria, plants, and plant pathogens 01.05.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163114 SERENA - SEdimentary REcord of the Northern Afar: Insights in the flooding history of the Danakil Depression 01.07.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169993 Genetic and Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Photoreceptor Development 01.10.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

In contrast to genomics, transcriptomics or proteomics, all of which focus on a specific type or family of molecules, the analysis of metabolites faces the particular challenge of chemical diversity. This is especially true for the analysis of the entire metabolome of an organism (“metabolomics”). When focusing on a specific metabolite of interest in a biological sample, the difficulty frequently comes from the matrix complexity and the search for low abundant compounds can be reminiscent of “searching for a needle in a haystack”. To resolve this issue, two detection parameters are crucial: selectivity and mass resolution. While standard GC/MS systems are well suited for the detection and identification of relatively abundant compounds in low complexity matrices, the scientific projects presently ongoing in several research groups of the University of Fribourg require the next level of performance in terms of analytical capacities. This is a joint application of the Departments of Geosciences and of Biology from the University of Fribourg, submitted by six researchers with scientific interests as diverse as biogeochemistry, neurobiology, plant biology and microbiology. The common thread between the five projects described in detail in the research plan is their need for an instrument able to detect low abundant compounds in complex matrices and to accurately identify and quantify them. The Agilent 7250 GC/Q-TOF (gas chromatography/time-of-flight) applied for here provides these technical requirements at a reasonable price (see also section 3.2). The projects described in this grant application are expected to lead to important discoveries e.g. in the understanding of brain functioning and memory disorders, or in the discovery of new bioactive molecules that could contribute to more sustainable crop protection. Importantly, we anticipate that beyond these described projects, the applied for GC/Q-TOF will be of use to a broad range of scientists sharing the need for selective detection and accurate identification and quantification of specific metabolites, or for analysis of complex metabolomes with many unknown compounds. At present, the Agilent GC/Q-TOF is only available in a single research institute in Switzerland (Labor Spiez). The acquisition of such high-end instrument for a recently established Analytics/Metabolomics Platform would constitute a strong competitive advantage for researchers from the University of Fribourg and from neighboring Swiss research institutions. The incorporation of the instrument into the Analytics/Metabolomics Platform will warrant its accessibility to a broad range of research groups from our University and from other Swiss research institutions, while ensuring the instrument’s maintenance and the proper tutoring of prospective users.
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