Metabolomics and bioinformatics service platforms
Metabolomics Australia (MA) is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and the AWRI that provides academia and industry with access to specialised analytical technologies for the measurement of small molecules.
As Australia’s sole full-service metabolomics platform, MA is a key contributor to metabolomics-based innovations, supporting translation of metabolomics concepts in biomolecular research and providing end-users with expertise in design of experiments, method development, validation and data analysis, together with customised bioinformatics solutions, training and support. The AWRI focuses on the metabolomics of agricultural products, foods and beverages, and microorganisms, areas of strategic and economic importance to Australia.
In 2018/2019 Metabolomics SA successfully completed 59 jobs for clients from a range of sectors. The number of samples analysed for external clients equated to two-thirds of the total amount of work completed. The facility’s service portfolio was expanded to include accurate quantitation of plant hormones (gibberellin); vitamin K2 screening; accurate quantitation of tryptophan metabolites; quantitation of ethylene (plant hormone) emissions in rice and wheat; and herbicide product screening.
Services were conducted across food and beverage, agriculture, biomedical and material science sectors. Monitoring of phytohormones in plant material was conducted in conjunction with the University of Adelaide through a newly developed high-throughput assay. A large portion of work during the year for grape and wine research and development went towards the completion of analysis for a collaborative project with the University of Tasmania measuring quality in Australian sparkling wines.
The MStractor workflow, a bioinformatics tool for pre-processing raw data from LC-MS and GC-MS non-targeted metabolomics experiments, was published on GitHub, a software development and sharing online platform, making it freely accessible for the wider metabolomics community. The developed workflow has been adopted by other Metabolomics Australia nodes.
A collaboration has been established with IBP-Halle (Germany) and the European Mass Bank Community, with the aim of contributing to and sharing mass spectrometry databases of plant metabolites.