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J Vis Exp. 2012 Apr 7;(62):e3163. doi: 10.3791/3163.

Concentration of metabolites from low-density planktonic communities for environmental metabolomics using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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1
Biosphere Oriented Biology Research Unit, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute.

Abstract

Environmental metabolomics is an emerging field that is promoting new understanding in how organisms respond to and interact with the environment and each other at the biochemical level. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of several technologies, including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), with considerable promise for such studies. Advantages of NMR are that it is suitable for untargeted analyses, provides structural information and spectra can be queried in quantitative and statistical manners against recently available databases of individual metabolite spectra. In addition, NMR spectral data can be combined with data from other omics levels (e.g. transcriptomics, genomics) to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the physiological responses of taxa to each other and the environment. However, NMR is less sensitive than other metabolomic techniques, making it difficult to apply to natural microbial systems where sample populations can be low-density and metabolite concentrations low compared to metabolites from well-defined and readily extractable sources such as whole tissues, biofluids or cell-cultures. Consequently, the few direct environmental metabolomic studies of microbes performed to date have been limited to culture-based or easily defined high-density ecosystems such as host-symbiont systems, constructed co-cultures or manipulations of the gut environment where stable isotope labeling can be additionally used to enhance NMR signals. Methods that facilitate the concentration and collection of environmental metabolites at concentrations suitable for NMR are lacking. Since recent attention has been given to the environmental metabolomics of organisms within the aquatic environment, where much of the energy and material flow is mediated by the planktonic community, we have developed a method for the concentration and extraction of whole-community metabolites from planktonic microbial systems by filtration. Commercially available hydrophilic poly-1,1-difluoroethene (PVDF) filters are specially treated to completely remove extractables, which can otherwise appear as contaminants in subsequent analyses. These treated filters are then used to filter environmental or experimental samples of interest. Filters containing the wet sample material are lyophilized and aqueous-soluble metabolites are extracted directly for conventional NMR spectroscopy using a standardized potassium phosphate extraction buffer. Data derived from these methods can be analyzed statistically to identify meaningful patterns, or integrated with other omics levels for comprehensive understanding of community and ecosystem function.

PMID:
22508363
PMCID:
PMC3580268
DOI:
10.3791/3163
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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