Plant Sciences

Accessibility


| Share

New equipment helps NDSU researchers study plant disease and food safety

New QTOF equipment helps Dr. Senay Simsek and Dr. Paul Schwarz use plant metabolomics to study plant physiology, grain quality and processing, and the nutritional aspects of grains.
New equipment helps NDSU researchers study plant disease and food safety

Simsek and Schwarz with new QTOF equipment

New cutting edge equipment at NDSU will improve food safety and disease research on wheat and barley. The equipment, manufactured by Agilent Technologies of Santa Clara, CA, is called ultra-high performance liquid chromatograph and quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometer (UHPLC Q-TOF/MS or QTOF) and is unique within the North Dakota University system. The QTOF was obtained through the efforts of NDSU researchers Dr. Senay Simsek and Dr. Paul Schwarz, faculty members in the Department of Plant Sciences.

QTOF Research EquipmentThe research accomplished using QTOF is called plant metabolomics and examines the influence of genetics and external environmental factors on the small molecules or metabolites produced by the biochemical pathways in a plant. According to Simsek, metabolomics was developed in the medical sciences and widely used to identify markers of disease and the effect of pharmaceutical treatments. Metabolomics can be a powerful tool for the study of plant diseases, such as Fusarium Head Blight. However, it also has tremendous potential for research on many aspects of plant physiology, grain quality and processing, and the nutritional aspects of grains.

Chemists James Gillespie and Kristin Whitney anticipate that the research completed by QTOF instrumentation will also complement other research projects at NDSU, including genomics and transcriptomics which deal with plants’ genetic make-up and gene expression.

Current research projects include determining the metabolites that are formed in response to the infection of Hard Red Spring wheat by Fusarium, and it is hoped that this will help identify defense mechanisms within the wheat plant. Both Simsek and Schwarz are studying the levels of mycotoxins in wheat and barley, which has important food safety and regulatory implications. The QTOF is also being used to investigate metabolites associated with sprouting in barley. The QTOF is capable of generating as many as 1000 metabolites and 1000 megabytes of data from a single plant extract.

Major funding for purchase was provided by the ND Wheat Commission and USDA-AFRI. Additional support came from the North Dakota Barley Council, NDSU Agricultural Experiment Station, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences and Agilent Technologies.

NDSU Department of Plant Sciences – April 23, 2013
Editor: Karen Hertsgaard, (701) 231-5384, karen.hertsgaard@ndsu.edu

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.