Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry System for Monitoring Volatile Metabolites

Colbert, Alyssa V., Joshua J. Eby, and Kendra R. Evans

Design of instrumentation and techniques for sampling and quantitating biomolecules from living cells is crucial for the investigation of various medical conditions and represents a significant niche in the fields of biotechnology and infection diagnostics.  In the present work, we introduce a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)-based method for monitoring the secretion of volatile compounds from bacteria and present progress toward this goal.  As bacteria process nutrients, they produce byproducts called metabolites.  The release of volatile metabolites, though significant in metabolic studies, is understudied and largely overlooked in biological literature.  Detection and quantitation of metabolites is important in the broader applications of biotechnology and in the diagnosis of infections.  It has been demonstrated that the volatile metabolites exhibit dynamic changes over time, but the mechanism behind the dynamics is not yet elucidated.  The dynamics may be of significance for optimizing cell culture environments and for better understanding microbial processes.  Automated sampling and detection with the GC-MS technique will enable further investigation of the dynamics of the volatile metabolites emitted from the bacteria.