Centre for Metabolomics Research

Metabolomics is the study of the small molecules that are involved in cellular metabolism. We apply metabolomics to all areas of biology with an aim to understand systems at the cellular, tissue and whole organism level.

The Centre for Metabolomics Research (CMR) is part of the department of Biochemistry at the Institute of Integrative Biology.

We develop robust and reproducible metabolomics platforms that can be used in human, plant and microbial studies and have generated metabolomics standards and procedures (SOPs) that have been very well received by the metabolomics community.  We apply metabolomics to all areas of biology with an aim to understand systems at the cellular, tissue and whole organism level.

We have strong interdisciplinary skills that are complementary in nature as metabolomics is a multidisciplinary science that spans different areas of biology, analytical chemistry and computer sciences.

Introduction

Metabolomics is the study of the small molecules that are involved in cellular metabolism.  This is a biochemical discipline that can be used to address many different biological questions and involves measurement of intracellular metabolites, as well as those found in the medium outside cells (footprinting/exometabolome), or in circulatory fluids (viz. serum, plasma, urine, etc).  To achieve this we use complementary bioanalytical platforms as well as informatics for interpretation of the multivariate data generated.  In the CMR we are developing and applying a variety of analytical approaches including those based on mass spectrometry (MS), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, as well as Raman and infrared microscopy.

Technologies

In mass spectrometry we currently perform:

  • LC-MS where we focus on reversed phase for the analysis of lipophilic species.  This is performed on our ion mobility MS system, Orbitrap or Orbitrap ID-X Tribrid, for untargeted metabolite analysis.
  • LC-triple quad system is dedicated for the quantification of target metabolites.
  • GC-MS with prior chemical derivatisation, via methoximation and silylation, is used for the analysis of polar, non-volatile metabolites.

For NMR spectroscopy we employ:

  • 600 MHz and 700 MHz spectrometers fitted with Samplejet autosamplers to enable reproducible quantitative analysis of polar and lipophilic samples via 1H NMR. All spectrometers include 13C and 15N capabilities for metabolite identification and isotopic enrichment studies.
  • Full details of NMR capabilities are available here.

For Raman and infrared analysis of tissues and single cells we employ:

  • Spontaneous Raman with 785 nm excitation.
  • Coming soon: Coherent Raman methods including CARS (coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering) and SRS (stimulated Raman scattering) for imaging specific vibrations.
  • Coming soon: Optical photothermal infrared spectroscopy.

Research

In addition to technology and informatics developments, we conduct our own research in many different areas including:

  • Health and disease, as well as diagnostics, in human and mammalian systems.
  • Microbiology including adaptation and response to human drugs and antibiotics, as well as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Drug transport into cells and distributions of drugs and drug metabolites within tissues.
  • Functional genomics analyses for assigning function to genes and so bridging genomics to biological systems.
  • Synthetic biology applications focusing on the production of desirable high-value products.
  • Food security, concentrating on microbial spoilage and pathogen contamination.
  • Plant systems for enhancing crop yields or production of other desirable traits.
  • Invertebrate systems for environmental and evolutionary biology.

The nature of metabolomics means that we are keen to collaborate and learn about new biological challenges, both within the University of Liverpool and outside with other academics and companies.  Our teams can provide advice on experimental design and discuss how we can best tackle new research areas together to achieve your research goals.