New paper – NIMS to rapidly quantify alcohol production in microorganisms

Northen Lab researchers Kai Deng, Markus de Raad, and Trent Northen along with collaborators at University of California Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and Sandia National Labs recently co-authored the publication “Rapid quantification of alcohol production in microorganisms based on nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS)”. NIMS is a surface-based MS technique, developed by the Northen lab, that utilizes nanostructured surfaces which have “initiator” molecules trapped within them that desorbs analytes upon UV laser irradiation. NIMS’ low background ion interference and improved signal -to-noise ratio for low mass analytes makes this method well suited for mass analysis of small molecules.This article explores how NIMS is used for the quantification of primary alcohols.

Quantification of primary alcohol analytes using the NIMS method was comparable to GC-MS while achieving high throughput. Analyte modification to form oxime adducts was used in conjunction with an alkoxyamine probe on the NIMS surface to achieve stable bond formation. This method enables the quantification of C5-C18 alcohols, glucose, and gluconate in bacterial culture media and improves our ability to characterize strains for metabolite usage and production. Validation assays were performed with P. putida which showed this strain is unable to use C7 and C8 n-alcohols for growth. We expect this technology to be useful for high throughput screening of mutant libraries as well as rapid screening for compound/drug discovery.

Image: Transformation of alcohols to NIMS adduct and their representative MS signatures

To learn more about the development of this platform, read the full article here.

Deng, K., Wang, X., Ing, N., Opgenorth, P., de Raad, M., Kim, J., Simmons, B. A., Adams, P. D., Singh, A. K., Lee, T. S., Northen, T. R. (2023). Rapid quantification of alcohol production in