Application of MALDI MS Imaging to Environmental Science


MALDI Mass Spectrometry (MS) is a great analytical platform for environmental science because it offers excellent sensitivity over a large dynamic range and rapid analysis time.  In one single experiment, scientists are able to obtain information on a wide range of compounds, known and unknown, without the need for prior labeling.  Both man made compounds and natural environmental compounds can be detected and analyzed.  Practical application include monitoring know substances in wildlife and studying the localization of compounds throughout the animal body.

US EPA biologist uses the TM-Sprayer to produce Mass Spectrometry imaging of proteins in Zebra Fish

TM-Sprayer was used to deposit a matrix solution with 5 mg/ml SPA, 250 ul/min flow rate, 1200 velocity, 1 min dry time between passes, with 8 passes, 90 degree turn between each pass and 1 mm offset.

Proteins present in ovaries and eggs are imaged by Mass spectrometry imaging (AB Sciex MALDI TOF 4800)

Proteins present in ovaries and eggs are imaged by Mass spectrometry imaging (AB Sciex MALDI TOF 4800)

Composition and Spatial Analysis in One Experiment


Mass Spectrometry offers the ability to provide compositional information on a wide range of compounds such as animal proteins without the need to first generate specific antibodies.  This can help scientists provide rapid answers following an environmental crisis.   

Mapping of Bio-Molecules in Animal Organs

In a paper published in 2009, Ruibing Chen et al showed how MALDI MS Imaging can be used to produce 3D mapping of bio-molecules in a Cancer borealis crab brain.  The identification and confirmation of key lipids was achieved by using the MS/MS fragmentation.

Three Dimensional Mapping of Neuropeptides and Lipids in Crustacean Brain by Mass Spectral Imaging

Ruibing Chen, Limei Hui, Robert M. Sturm, and Lingjun Li
Department of Chemistry and School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA