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Publications

Frainay, C.; Schymanski, E. L.; Neumann, S.; Merlet, B.; Salek, R. M.; Jourdan, F.; Yanes, O. Mind the Gap: Mapping Mass Spectral Databases in Genome-Scale Metabolic Networks Reveals Poorly Covered Areas Metabolites 8, 51, (2018) DOI: 10.3390/metabo8030051

The use of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to study human, plant and microbial biochemistry and their interactions with the environment largely depends on the ability to annotate metabolite structures by matching mass spectral features of the measured metabolites to curated spectra of reference standards. While reference databases for metabolomics now provide information for hundreds of thousands of compounds, barely 5% of these known small molecules have experimental data from pure standards. Remarkably, it is still unknown how well existing mass spectral libraries cover the biochemical landscape of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. To address this issue, we have investigated the coverage of 38 genome-scale metabolic networks by public and commercial mass spectral databases, and found that on average only 40% of nodes in metabolic networks could be mapped by mass spectral information from standards. Next, we deciphered computationally which parts of the human metabolic network are poorly covered by mass spectral libraries, revealing gaps in the eicosanoids, vitamins and bile acid metabolism. Finally, our network topology analysis based on the betweenness centrality of metabolites revealed the top 20 most important metabolites that, if added to MS databases, may facilitate human metabolome characterization in the future.
Publications

Peters, K.; Gorzolka, K.; Bruelheide, H.; Neumann, S. Computational workflow to study the seasonal variation of secondary metabolites in nine different bryophytes Sci Data 5, 180179, (2018) DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2018.179

In Eco-Metabolomics interactions are studied of non-model organisms in their natural environment and relations are made between biochemistry and ecological function. Current challenges when processing such metabolomics data involve complex experiment designs which are often carried out in large field campaigns involving multiple study factors, peak detection parameter settings, the high variation of metabolite profiles and the analysis of non-model species with scarcely characterised metabolomes. Here, we present a dataset generated from 108 samples of nine bryophyte species obtained in four seasons using an untargeted liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry acquisition method (LC/MS). Using this dataset we address the current challenges when processing Eco-Metabolomics data. Here, we also present a reproducible and reusable computational workflow implemented in Galaxy focusing on standard formats, data import, technical validation, feature detection, diversity analysis and multivariate statistics. We expect that the representative dataset and the reusable processing pipeline will facilitate future studies in the research field of Eco-Metabolomics.
Publications

Peters, K.; Gorzolka, K.; Bruelheide, H.; Neumann, S. Seasonal variation of secondary metabolites in nine different bryophytes Ecol Evol 8, 9105-9117, (2018) DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4361

Bryophytes occur in almost all land ecosystems and contribute to global biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem functioning, and influence vegetation dynamics. As growth and biochemistry of bryophytes are strongly dependent on the season, we analyzed metabolic variation across seasons with regard to ecological characteristics and phylogeny. Using bioinformatics methods, we present an integrative and reproducible approach to connect ecology with biochemistry. Nine different bryophyte species were collected in three composite samples in four seasons. Untargeted liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC/MS) was performed to obtain metabolite profiles. Redundancy analysis, Pearson's correlation, Shannon diversity, and hierarchical clustering were used to determine relationships among species, seasons, ecological characteristics, and hierarchical clustering. Metabolite profiles of Marchantia polymorpha and Fissidens taxifolius which are species with ruderal life strategy (R‐selected) showed low seasonal variability, while the profiles of the pleurocarpous mosses and Grimmia pulvinata which have characteristics of a competitive strategy (C‐selected) were more variable. Polytrichum strictum and Plagiomnium undulatum had intermediary life strategies. Our study revealed strong species‐specific differences in metabolite profiles between the seasons. Life strategies, growth forms, and indicator values for light and soil were among the most important ecological predictors. We demonstrate that untargeted Eco‐Metabolomics provide useful biochemical insight that improves our understanding of fundamental ecological strategies.
Publications

Peters, K.; Worrich, A.; Weinhold, A.; Alka, O.; Balcke, G.; Birkemeyer, C.; Bruelheide, H.; Calf, O. W.; Dietz, S.; Dührkop, K.; Gaquerel, E.; Heinig, U.; Kücklich, M.; Macel, M.; Müller, C.; Poeschl, Y.; Pohnert, G.; Ristok, C.; Rodríguez, V. M.; Ruttkies, C.; Schuman, M.; Schweiger, R.; Shahaf, N.; Steinbeck, C.; Tortosa, M.; Treutler, H.; Ueberschaar, N.; Velasco, P.; Weiß, B. M.; Widdig, A.; Neumann, S.; van Dam, N. M. Current Challenges in Plant Eco-Metabolomics Int J Mol Sci 19, 1385, (2018) DOI: 10.3390/ijms19051385

The relatively new research discipline of Eco-Metabolomics is the application of metabolomics techniques to ecology with the aim to characterise biochemical interactions of organisms across different spatial and temporal scales. Metabolomics is an untargeted biochemical approach to measure many thousands of metabolites in different species, including plants and animals. Changes in metabolite concentrations can provide mechanistic evidence for biochemical processes that are relevant at ecological scales. These include physiological, phenotypic and morphological responses of plants and communities to environmental changes and also interactions with other organisms. Traditionally, research in biochemistry and ecology comes from two different directions and is performed at distinct spatiotemporal scales. Biochemical studies most often focus on intrinsic processes in individuals at physiological and cellular scales. Generally, they take a bottom-up approach scaling up cellular processes from spatiotemporally fine to coarser scales. Ecological studies usually focus on extrinsic processes acting upon organisms at population and community scales and typically study top-down and bottom-up processes in combination. Eco-Metabolomics is a transdisciplinary research discipline that links biochemistry and ecology and connects the distinct spatiotemporal scales. In this review, we focus on approaches to study chemical and biochemical interactions of plants at various ecological levels, mainly plant–organismal interactions, and discuss related examples from other domains. We present recent developments and highlight advancements in Eco-Metabolomics over the last decade from various angles. We further address the five key challenges: (1) complex experimental designs and large variation of metabolite profiles; (2) feature extraction; (3) metabolite identification; (4) statistical analyses; and (5) bioinformatics software tools and workflows. The presented solutions to these challenges will advance connecting the distinct spatiotemporal scales and bridging biochemistry and ecology
Publications

Schober, D.; Jacob, D.; Wilson, M.; Cruz, J. A.; Marcu, A.; Grant, J. R.; Moing, A.; Deborde, C.; de Figueiredo, L. F.; Haug, K.; Rocca-Serra, P.; Easton, J.; Ebbels, T. M. D.; Hao, J.; Ludwig, C.; Günther, U. L.; Rosato, A.; Klein, M. S.; Lewis, I. A.; Luchinat, C.; Jones, A. R.; Grauslys, A.; Larralde, M.; Yokochi, M.; Kobayashi, N.; Porzel, A.; Griffin, J. L.; Viant, M. R.; Wishart, D. S.; Steinbeck, C.; Salek, R. M.; Neumann, S. nmrML: A Community Supported Open Data Standard for the Description, Storage, and Exchange of NMR Data Anal Chem 90, 649–656, (2018) DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02795

NMR is a widely used analytical technique with a growing number of repositories available. As a result, demands for a vendor-agnostic, open data format for long-term archiving of NMR data have emerged with the aim to ease and encourage sharing, comparison, and reuse of NMR data. Here we present nmrML, an open XML-based exchange and storage format for NMR spectral data. The nmrML format is intended to be fully compatible with existing NMR data for chemical, biochemical, and metabolomics experiments. nmrML can capture raw NMR data, spectral data acquisition parameters, and where available spectral metadata, such as chemical structures associated with spectral assignments. The nmrML format is compatible with pure-compound NMR data for reference spectral libraries as well as NMR data from complex biomixtures, i.e., metabolomics experiments. To facilitate format conversions, we provide nmrML converters for Bruker, JEOL and Agilent/Varian vendor formats. In addition, easy-to-use Web-based spectral viewing, processing, and spectral assignment tools that read and write nmrML have been developed. Software libraries and Web services for data validation are available for tool developers and end-users. The nmrML format has already been adopted for capturing and disseminating NMR data for small molecules by several open source data processing tools and metabolomics reference spectral libraries, e.g., serving as storage format for the MetaboLights data repository. The nmrML open access data standard has been endorsed by the Metabolomics Standards Initiative (MSI), and we here encourage user participation and feedback to increase usability and make it a successful standard.
Printed publications

Khoonsari, P. E.; Moreno, P.; Bergmann, S.; Burman, J.; Capuccini, M.; Carone, M.; Cascante, M.; de Atauri, P.; Foguet, C.; Gonzalez-Beltran, A.; Hankemeier, T.; Haug, K.; He, S.; Herman, S.; Johnson, D.; Kale, N.; Larsson, A.; Neumann, S.; Peters, K.; Pireddu, L.; Rocca-Serra, P.; Roger, P.; Rueedi, R.; Ruttkies, C.; Sadawi, N.; Salek, R. M.; Sansone, S.-A.; Schober, D.; Selivanov, V.; Thévenot, E. A.; van Vliet, M.; Zanetti, G.; Steinbeck, C.; Kultima, K.; Spjuth, O. Interoperable and scalable data analysis with microservices: Applications in Metabolomics BioRxiv (2018) DOI: 10.1101/213603

Developing a robust and performant data analysis workflow that integrates all necessary components whilst still being able to scale over multiple compute nodes is a challenging task. We introduce a generic method based on the microservice architecture, where software tools are encapsulated as Docker containers that can be connected into scientific workflows and executed in parallel using the Kubernetes container orchestrator. The access point is a virtual research environment which can be launched on-demand on cloud resources and desktop computers. IT-expertise requirements on the user side are kept to a minimum, and established workflows can be re-used effortlessly by any novice user. We validate our method in the field of metabolomics on two mass spectrometry studies, one nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy study and one fluxomics study, showing that the method scales dynamically with increasing availability of computational resources. We achieved a complete integration of the major software suites resulting in the first turn-key workflow encompassing all steps for mass-spectrometry-based metabolomics including preprocessing, multivariate statistics, and metabolite identification. Microservices is a generic methodology that can serve any scientific discipline and opens up for new types of large-scale integrative science.
Publications

Döll, S.; Kuhlmann, M.; Rutten, T.; Mette, M. F.; Scharfenberg, S.; Petridis, A.; Berreth, D.-C.; Mock, H.-P. Accumulation of the coumarin scopolin under abiotic stress conditions is mediated by the Arabidopsis thaliana THO/TREX complex Plant J 93, 431-444, (2018) DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13797

Secondary metabolites are involved in the plant stress response. Among these are scopolin and its active form scopoletin, which are coumarin derivatives associated with reactive oxygen species scavenging and pathogen defence. Here we show that scopolin accumulation can be induced in the root by osmotic stress and in the leaf by low‐temperature stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. A genetic screen for altered scopolin levels in A. thaliana revealed a mutant compromised in scopolin accumulation in response to stress; the lesion was present in a homologue of THO1 coding for a subunit of the THO/TREX complex. The THO/TREX complex contributes to RNA silencing, supposedly by trafficking precursors of small RNAs. Mutants defective in THO, AGO1, SDS3 and RDR6 were impaired with respect to scopolin accumulation in response to stress, suggesting a mechanism based on RNA silencing such as the trans‐acting small interfering RNA pathway, which requires THO/TREX function.
Publications

Schüler, J.-A.; Neumann, S.; Müller-Hannemann, M.; Brandt, W. ChemFrag: Chemically meaningful annotation of fragment ion mass spectra J Mass Spectrom 53, 1104-1115, (2018) DOI: 10.1002/jms.4278

Identification and structural determination of small molecules by mass spectrometry is an important step in chemistry and biochemistry. However, the chemically realistic annotation of a fragment ion spectrum can be a difficult challenge. We developed ChemFrag, for the detection of fragmentation pathways and the annotation of fragment ions with chemically reasonable structures. ChemFrag combines a quantum chemical with a rule‐based approach. For different doping substances as test instances, ChemFrag correctly annotates fragment ions. In most cases, the predicted fragments are chemically more realistic than those from purely combinatorial approaches, or approaches based on machine learning. The annotation generated by ChemFrag often coincides with spectra that have been manually annotated by experts. This is a major advance in peak annotation and allows a more precise automatic interpretation of mass spectra.
Publications

Hu, M.; Müller, E.; Schymanski, E. L.; Ruttkies, C.; Schulze, T.; Brack, W.; Krauss, M. Performance of combined fragmentation and retention prediction for the identification of organic micropollutants by LC-HRMS Anal Bioanal Chem 410, 1931-1941, (2018) DOI: 10.1007/s00216-018-0857-5

In nontarget screening, structure elucidation of small molecules from high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) data is challenging, particularly the selection of the most likely candidate structure among the many retrieved from compound databases. Several fragmentation and retention prediction methods have been developed to improve this candidate selection. In order to evaluate their performance, we compared two in silico fragmenters (MetFrag and CFM-ID) and two retention time prediction models (based on the chromatographic hydrophobicity index (CHI) and on log D). A set of 78 known organic micropollutants was analyzed by liquid chromatography coupled to a LTQ Orbitrap HRMS with electrospray ionization (ESI) in positive and negative mode using two fragmentation techniques with different collision energies. Both fragmenters (MetFrag and CFM-ID) performed well for most compounds, with average ranking the correct candidate structure within the top 25% and 22 to 37% for ESI+ and ESI− mode, respectively. The rank of the correct candidate structure slightly improved when MetFrag and CFM-ID were combined. For unknown compounds detected in both ESI+ and ESI−, generally positive mode mass spectra were better for further structure elucidation. Both retention prediction models performed reasonably well for more hydrophobic compounds but not for early eluting hydrophilic substances. The log D prediction showed a better accuracy than the CHI model. Although the two fragmentation prediction methods are more diagnostic and sensitive for candidate selection, the inclusion of retention prediction by calculating a consensus score with optimized weighting can improve the ranking of correct candidates as compared to the individual methods.
Publications

McEachran, A. D.; Mansouri, K.; Grulke, C.; Schymanski, E. L.; Ruttkies, C.; Williams, A. J. “MS-Ready” structures for non-targeted high-resolution mass spectrometry screening studies J Cheminformatics 10, 45, (2018) DOI: 10.1186/s13321-018-0299-2

Chemical database searching has become a fixture in many non-targeted identification workflows based on high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). However, the form of a chemical structure observed in HRMS does not always match the form stored in a database (e.g., the neutral form versus a salt; one component of a mixture rather than the mixture form used in a consumer product). Linking the form of a structure observed via HRMS to its related form(s) within a database will enable the return of all relevant variants of a structure, as well as the related metadata, in a single query. A Konstanz Information Miner (KNIME) workflow has been developed to produce structural representations observed using HRMS (“MS-Ready structures”) and links them to those stored in a database. These MS-Ready structures, and associated mappings to the full chemical representations, are surfaced via the US EPA’s Chemistry Dashboard (https://comptox.epa.gov/dashboard/). This article describes the workflow for the generation and linking of ~ 700,000 MS-Ready structures (derived from ~ 760,000 original structures) as well as download, search and export capabilities to serve structure identification using HRMS. The importance of this form of structural representation for HRMS is demonstrated with several examples, including integration with the in silico fragmentation software application MetFrag. The structures, search, download and export functionality are all available through the CompTox Chemistry Dashboard, while the MetFrag implementation can be viewed at https://msbi.ipb-halle.de/MetFragBeta/.
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