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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Metabolomic Methods for Plant and Animal Specimens

Location: Food Composition and Methods Development Lab

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To develop metabolomic methods for biological materials that can be used to identify and authenticate the whole material, identify and quantify the small molecule content of the material, support nutritional and clinical research, and develop databases for plant and animal materials.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will develop metabolomic methods based on mass spectrometry (MS) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) using both direct analysis (no prior separation) and prior separation by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (U-HPLC). Spectral fingerprints acquired by direct analysis with MS and 1H-NMR and chromatographic fingerprints acquired by U-HPLC/MS and U-HPLC/1H-NMR will be used with multivariate analysis to identify and authenticate whole plant, botanical, and animal materials. Metabolomes of the materials will be identified and quantified. Specific chemical compounds (biomarkers) distinctive to each material will be identified. Analytical data acquired with both direct and chromatographic analysis will be used to construct databases to characterize the biological materials and serve as a base for future data mining.


3.Progress Report:

Controversy exists as to whether organically grown produce offers increased nutrition compared to the same cultivars grown conventionally. Scientists at USDA in Beltsville, MD, in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition and Food Chemistry at the University of Maryland, have developed a fast analytical method that can detect chemical differences in organically and conventionally grown vegetables in 1 minute using flow-injection mass spectrometry (FIMS) following a simple methanol-water extraction. The project revealed that there are chemical differences between organically and conventionally grown basil, peppermint, and sage sold in the US market. However, the chemical differences have not been shown to be of nutritional significance.


Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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