Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Plant Metabolites


Project Leader(s):
Basil Nikolau

Principal Investigators:
Robert Houk, Young-Jin Lee, Basil Nikolau


We are developing mass spectrometric imaging techniques to map metabolite distributions within plant tissues, and eventually among individual plant cells. Such details will ultimately lead to a predictive understanding of the mechanisms that multicellular organisms use to regulate metabolic processes. By studying the diversity of the cuticular waxes, we hope to gain detailed insight into their biosynthesis as a function of genetics, tissue type, development, and environment. A laser beam will be used to interrogate sequentially micrometer areas of a plant by vaporizing the surface contents of the tissue into a mass spectrometer. Rastering of the laser beam over the tissue will produce a laterally resolved image of the various substances within different structures of the plant. Repeated vaporization at the same focused point of a plant structure will produce a depth profile of the components. We plan to generate ions directly from the plant tissue by designing novel additives as pseudo-matrixes.


This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences through the Ames Laboratory.  The Ames Laboratory is operated for the U.S. Department of Energy by Iowa State University under Contract No. DE-AC02-07CH11358.


Perdian D C; Schieffer G M; Houk R S . 2010. Atmospheric pressure laser desorption/ionization of plant metabolites and plant tissue using colloidal graphite. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 24:397-402. abstract
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Lorge S E; Houk R S . 2009. Controlled dissolution of silicon dioxide layers for depth resolved multielement analysis by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Spectrochimica Acta Part B-Atomic Spectroscopy. 64:1235-1239. abstract
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Cha S W; Song Z H; Nikolau B J; Yeung E S . 2009. Direct Profiling and Imaging of Epicuticular Waxes on Arabidopsis thaliana by Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry Using Silver Colloid as a Matrix. Analytical Chemistry. 81:2991-3000. abstract
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Cha S W; Zhang H; Ilarslan H I; Wurtele E S; Brachova L; Nikolau B J; Yeung E S . 2008. Direct profiling and imaging of plant metabolites in intact tissues by using colloidal graphite-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. Plant Journal. 55:348-360. abstract
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Zhang H; Brokman S M; Fang N; Pohl N L; Yeung E S . 2008. Linkage position and residue identification of disaccharides by tandem mass spectrometry and linear discriminant analysis. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 22:1579-1586. abstract
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