Talking LC/MS vs. NMR with the big cheeses of French metabolomics

standI’m pleased to report back after my first conference and first visit to France, having just attended The French Metabolomics and Fluxomics Network (RFMF) meeting. This is a key meeting for metabolomics research in France, bringing together both young and seasoned scientists to discuss methods and analysis in metabolomics research, which in France is heavily focussed on plant science.

There was a packed lecture schedule interspersed with short lunch breaks, and of course, special breaks to eat the plentiful amounts of cheese available. At the cocktail reception on the first evening my lovely colleague Agnès had great reason to laugh as she saw the look of horror on my face – the result of a combination of having just taken a bite of foreign fromage that exploded with insulting flavour and the perfect timing of Agnès commenting, “This is really special cheese, it’s 10 years old!”. There was yet more foodie fun to come…

From the research posters and chatting to delegates, it was easy to see a clear technology split between NMR and MS techniques. NMR is especially suited to analysis where sample availability is fairly generous. One of the senior scientists and organisers of the conference told me that there are around 200,000 variables (possible metabolites) in plant samples; being an NMR scientist, he mentioned that no one in his lab actually uses NMR, but rather they use LC-MS. In his opinion, other NMR metabolomics research scientists in France are going to have to look toward LC-MS if they are serious about doing research on plants, as metabolomic profiling of plants is too complex for NMR currently. Another challenge that was creeping up in my conversations with delegates was on the limited availability of suitable spectral libraries to study plants, so these researchers were pleased to hear about the capabilities of Progenesis QI being able to query existing databases, building up fragmentation databases and being able to do theoretical fragmentation analysis to gain confidence and to fill in the gaps.

On the final night, the conference committee organised a meal at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant, the prestigious L’Abbaye De Collonges. This was not a typical restaurant; in fact, it was closer to a carnival experience with musical puppets and waiters running around to a countdown… I’ll let the pictures tell the story, but it was fair to say that the food was opulent & highly calorific! We all left beyond the point of being satiated 🙂

Restaurant

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The conference was a successful trip for us as we met researchers who were pleased to hear about Progenesis and how it could help them overcome some of the identification challenges they were facing in their metabolomics LC-MS analysis. If you are also finding many challenges with your LC-MS small molecule identifications, get in touch to find out whether Progenesis QI can help you too.

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