Metabolomics Australia

Metabolomics comprises the combination of high-throughput analytical technologies for the detection and quantification of metabolites in biological systems with the application of sophisticated bioinformatic tools for data mining and analysis. The targeted and/or non-targeted study of small molecules (metabolites) in biological materials (e.g. plasma, urine, tissue, plant and microbial extracts) and the resulting metabolite profiles reflect the actual cellular condition and provide useful indicators (biomarkers) of abnormalities/health, consequences of genetic engineering and adaptations to test compounds (e.g.drugs) or environmental factors, as well as a means of discovering new biomolecules (bioprospecting) and monitoring food quality

Metabolomics requires robust experimental design incorporating reliable sampling and the precise capture of thousands of metabolites from the biological sample of interest. The utilization of a variety of complementary analytical platforms is crucial for identifying and quantifying the large numbers of chemically diverse primary and secondary metabolites typically found in biological samples. Finally, it requires appropriate informatics for data extraction, mining and interpretation of the obtained information.

The most commonly used platforms for the detection and measurement of metabolites involves the use of gas chromatography (GC), liquid chromatography (LC), or capillary electrophoresis (CE) coupled with mass spectrometry (MS). Compounds may also be measured directly without chromatographic separation by, for example, fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). The latest trend involves Imaging MS to enable the investigation of the spatial distribution of metabolites.

Metabolomics Australia (MA) is a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) capability under Bioplatforms Australia Pty Ltd (BPA). BPA manages a consortium of national technology platforms to provide the analytical- and informatics-based capabilities to deliver “Systems Biology” to the Australian research community, including industry. The consortium involves 4 platforms including Genomics Australia (GA), Proteomics Australia (PA), Metabolomics Australia (MA) and Bioinformatics.

The Victorian node of Metabolomics Australia, located at the School of BioSciences and the Bio21 Institute for Molecular Science and Biotechnology, The University of Melbourne, is the hub of the national MA platform and offers an advanced analytical and bioinformatics capability providing state-of the-art metabolomics infrastructure. The facility offers access to expertise and technologies that cover a wide range of metabolite chemistries and quantitative analyses required for comprehensive metabolite profiling applicable to biomedical, agri-food and environmental sciences.

What are the services offered?

MA offers a comprehensive and customised platform that includes GC-MS, LC-MS, Imaging MS and NMR as well as a data analysis and interpretation service. MA is committed to developing the “omics” incorporating emerging trends in partnership with national and international researchers ensuring MA is state of the art and in a position to offer this to researchers both in academic and industry.  

The capability, along with the sister site at the School of BioSciences, delivers:

  • Customized experimental design for the analysis of targeted or non-targeted metabolites
  • bio-prospecting of metabolites from plant, animal and microbial systems
  • Imaging MS
  • comparison of genotype/SNP patterns with metabolite profiles
  • advanced informatics support for metabolomic data analysis
  • bioinformatics approaches to integrate systems metabolite profiling with corresponding genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data
  • skills training in the standardization and application of metabolomics technologies
  • provide access to a well developed visitors/research hotel infrastructure to cater for external users
  • promoting the uptake of the technology through workshops and conferences, and
  • the development of intellectual property with commercial potential.

Group Members

Professor Malcolm McConville, Bio21 Node leader and MA Informatics Leader

Dr Dedreia Tull, Facility Manager, Bio21 Institute

Research and Development

Mr David De Souza

Dr Brunda Nijagal

Dr Konstantinos Kouremenos

Mr Chris Bowen

Ms Komal Kanojia

BioInformatics

Dr Saravanan Dayalan

Mr Sean O’Callaghan