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Gas chromatographic metabolic profiling: A sensitive tool for functional microbial ecology

Abstract : Microbial metabolomics, which consists of a non-targeted analysis of the metabolites released from (‘exometabolome') or existing in (‘endometabolome') a cell has mostly been used to study the metabolism of particular microbes. Metabolomes also represent a picture of microbial activity and we suggest that the exometabolome may also contain pertinent information for studying microbial interaction networks. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry is the most commonly used technique in metabolomics studies. It allows a wide range of metabolites to be detected but requires the derivatisation of compounds prior to detection. This type of non-targeted analysis can introduce biases to the detection and quantification of the different metabolites, particularly at the extraction and derivatisation steps. The aims of this study, therefore, were to quantify the sources of variability and to test the sensitivity of the GC metabolic profiling approach to small environmental changes such as shifts in temperature. The temperature sensitivity of metabolic profiles was compared with that of catabolic profiles obtained using Biolog® microplates. Analytical variability was compared with biological variability by incubating bacterial strains isolated from soil with fructose at 20 °C and by replicating each step of the protocol (incubation, extraction and derivatisation). For both the endo- and the exometabolome, more than 70% of the total variability was of biological origin and principal components analysis clearly separated the strains along the first ordination axis. The endometabolome distinguished bacterial strains at the species level only, whereas separation was evident at the species and group level with the exometabolome. Temperature had a significant but differential effect on the metabolite production of the bacterial strains whilst their catabolic profiles remained relatively unaffected. The exometabolome was more sensitive to temperature shifts than the endometabolome, suggesting that this pool may be of interest for studies in environmental functional ecology.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 7, 2008 - 9:55:21 AM
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Elsa Coucheney, Naoise Nunan, Tim J. Daniell, Claire Chenu. Gas chromatographic metabolic profiling: A sensitive tool for functional microbial ecology. Journal of Microbiological Methods, Elsevier, 2008, 75, pp.491-500. ⟨10.1016/j.mimet.2008.07.029⟩. ⟨bioemco-00337463⟩



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