U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

New Approach to Analysis of Lipids for Biofuel Research
Published: July 20, 2009
Posted: July 27, 2009

A new technique has been developed that applies mass spectrometry to overcome obstacles to measurement of uncharged lipid molecules, a critical group of products of cellular metabolism in systems being studied for production of biofuels. Researchers at the Berkeley Lab led by Trent Northern have developed a method for converting these charge-neutral molecules to positively charged ions, without losing information about the chemical structure of the molecules. The ions can easily be identified and measured in widely used instruments, such as electrospray ionization mass spectrometers, which cannot directly measure neutral molecules. This development is important for study of neutral lipids (i.e. fatty alcohols, glycerolipids, and sterols), which represent a large and important class of metabolites for biofuel research which often go undetected. This new technique will allow detection of these metabolites with high sensitivity.

Reference: Hin-Koon Woo, Eden P. Go, Linh Hoang, Sunia A. Trauger, Benjamin Bowen, Gary Siuzdak, and Trent R. Northen, "Phosphonium labeling for increasing metabolomic coverage of neutral lipids using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry" Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, (2009), volume 23 pages 1849-1855.

Contact: Arthur Katz, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4932, Arthur Katz, SC-23.2, (301) 903-4932
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: Research Technologies and Methodologies

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


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