Metabolites represent the final products of genetic expression. Therefore, the comprehensive analysis of large numbers of metabolites has been termed metabolomics. Qualitative and quantitative analyses provide a view inside the biochemical status or phenotype of a cell or an organism. Such correlations of biochemical information with molecular data will allow much better insight into the functions of unknown gene, cell systems or organisms, especially with respect to the response to external stimuli.
Metabolomic studies also offer opportunities to study regulation processes and signaling between cells and inside organisms under the control of small molecules. The processes under investigation are correlated to proteomics directly. Finally, qualitative and quantitative differences in transcriptome, proteome and metabolome level becomes visible clearly.
Because of the chemical complexity, inherent analytical and biological variance, and limited dynamic range as well as restrictions in analytical methods the specific contribution of the department Metabolomics at ISAS will be to provide spectroscopic and spectrometric methods solving the analytical questions with respect to selectivity, sensitivity and dynamic range.
The following main emphases become high priority: Development of methods and instruments which are suitable to characterize the metabolom in a single step (including sample preparation, separation, dissolving, identification, quantification). In the long term temporal changes will be investigated continuously, especially with to the response to external stimuli selected. At the beginning the following projects are considered: Detection of volatile metabolites to recognise of possible lung cancer infections, investigations of emissions from molds both using ion mobility spectrometry, pharmacologic effective plant-extracts and mass spectrometric methods to analyse of organic species of biogenic sources.
Almost any life-science research using living cells is based on average data from large populations, thereby neglecting differences at the single cell level. These uncertainties are a result of genetic differences (mutations) and differences in the micro-environment of each individual cell. The ambition of the Single Cell Laboratory is to decipher the differences of a single cell that are generally buried within the cell population. This project is complementing the tool box of the Systems Biotechnology group located at the Chair of Chemical Biotechnology, University of Dortmund.