Metabolomics and bioinformatics service platforms
The AWRI established the South Australian node of Metabolomics Australia (Metabolomics SA) in 2008 as part of a national network with partners in Western Australia, Victoria, and Queensland. Metabolomics SA operates as a collaborative service platform that provides public and private researchers and industries with support, service and training as well as access to infrastructure and specialist expertise.
After a successful external review in 2018, Metabolomics SA secured substantial new investment to support its operations. Bioplatforms Australia, which manages funding through the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), together with the South Australian Government and the AWRI announced a collective investment of $11.1m for metabolomics and associated activities at the AWRI from 2019 to 2023. Funds will be used to replace in-demand mass spectrometry instruments and develop new capabilities in high resolution mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy for non-targeted metabolomics.
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.