Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technique yields never-before-seen information critical to biofuels research

15.08.2012
Pioneering mass spectrometry methods developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Ames Laboratory are helping plant biologists get their first glimpses of never-before-seen plant tissue structures.
The new method opens up new realms of study, ones that might have long-ranging implications for biofuels research and crop genetics.

“The data we’re seeing are unprecedented,” said Basil Nikolau, the Ames Laboratory faculty scientist heading up the project, funded by DOE’s Office of Science.

The laboratory’s team of researchers has developed a new more highly sensitive mass spectrometry technique to investigate metabolites, the small molecules that are the building blocks for plant biological processes.
Young-Jin Lee, a faculty scientist in Ames Laboratory’s Chemical and Biological Sciences Division, has successfully demonstrated the use of matrix-assisted laser deposition/ionization-mass spectrometry, or MALDI-MS, to map the lipids in cottonseed in a recent paper published in The Plant Cell, a premier research publication in plant science.

The research group’s technique is also featured in a paper published in a special issue of The Plant Journal, highlighting new developments in high resolution measurements in plant biology. The imaging technique can make maps of the locations of molecules in plant materials with resolution of 10 to 50 microns, less than a quarter the size of a human hair.

MALDI-MS has been in use in the medical and pharmaceutical fields for about the last decade, Lee said.

“In the medical field researchers were using this type of spectrometry to map proteins in human cancers and visualize the distribution of drugs through tissues. But in recent years the scientific community began to look at MALDI-MS as a possibility for mapping metabolites in plant material,” said Lee.

Traditional methods in gas chromatography and mass spectrometry told plant biologists the “what and how much” of plant metabolites, but not the “where.”

“Before these advances, in order to analyze plant material, biologists were forced to crush up tissue. We would lose spatial information, where these metabolites were located in different types of plant cells,” said Nikolau.

“The traditional methods provided qualitative and quantitative analysis, but it lost all localization of these small molecules,” said Lee. “With this technique we can see the distribution of these metabolites in the plant tissue at the single cell level.”

In Lee’s study of cottonseeds, done in partnership with a team of U.S. and German scientists, the technique showed a distribution of lipids that varies with tissue function. The knowledge could yield useful information about cottonseed, a crop valued as a possible source of biofuel and for its oil in the food industry.
“This information is really so new to scientists that we don’t know yet what it means. As a matter of fact, it challenges plant biologists at the moment to take hold of that data and integrate it into the way they do their science,” said Nikolau. “This data will change the future of how we do research.”

Lee said that though there was still much to learn about developing procedures using MALDI-MS to detect the tiny amounts of material in cells, he expects the use of the technique in plant science to gain wider use.

“Up until this point, this method has not really been recognized by plant scientists. But we were able to bring the technologies of analytical chemistry to the biological science problem of being able to map molecules at the single cell level. There is still a lot to learn about the process, but this technique is going to blossom very rapidly in the next few years.”

Nikolau believes the technology will be a key to thoroughly understanding plant biosynthesis, and in turn alternative energy production.

“This is really about the sustainability of our chemical world,” he said. “When you’re talking about chemical energy, you’re talking about carbon. Historically, over the last 100 years, it’s been carbon from petroleum. If you’re going to make biorenewable chemicals, the carbon comes in through photosynthesis, through plants. That process happens in discrete compartments within the organism, within individual cells. Science needs to know that highly detailed spatial information to take full advantage of it.”

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

The Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. The Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Laura Millsaps | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ameslab.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>