The Rothamsted metabolomics facility delivers high throughput spectroscopic data to establish the metabolite composition of biological tissues. We employ expert analysis of that data to answer a range of biological questions, predominantly in plant and crop sciences. Since our inception in 2003, we have worked on a range of crop tissues and diverse plant and tree species.
A typical metabolomics experiment within the facility often involves hundreds and sometimes thousands of samples that are processed via established standard operating proceedures (SOPs) requiring a range of skills and expertise. Sampling and tissue preparation is followed by metabolite extraction using a range of solvents. The extracted metabolites are analysed using state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques (nuclear magnetic resonance/NMR, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/LC-MS or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/GC-MS). Subsequent processing of the spectral data provides multiple large scale complex datasets that can be analysed using a variety of statistical methods.
The most challenging part of the work is in the annotation (i.e. identification) of metabolites in the NMR or mass spectral data. This is particularly relevant for the most discriminatory peaks. Many of the metabolites present in plants do not exist in the available spectral libraries and thus structures of new compounds need to be worked out (after isolation) and validated.
Our goal is to deliver comprehensive metabolomics/metabolite profiling to a range of users in plant science research. The facility has a team of dedicated technicians, spectroscopists and data analysts and our services are open to all investigators, internal research staff, collaborators and external clients.
Between 2012 qnd 2022, Rothamsted received significant investment (£3.7M) from BBSRC to upgrade its metabolomics facilities. These funds were used to acquire an new 600MHz NMR system with cryoplatform/cryoprobe, ultra-high resolution LC-MS (Orbitrap Elite and IQ-X), Q-TOF LC-MS for rapid mass fingerprinting, triple quadrupole mass spectrometry for targeted analysis and GC-MS (MSD).