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Microbe farts: detecting volatile organic compounds from fungi and bacteria using gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry

Erdmann, James
Trebelcock, William
Abstract
Description
All living organisms create gaseous byproducts of metabolism, often called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These metabolites serve many biological functions from cell communication to methods of environmental toxin tolerance. VOCs can be identified using gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry, a powerful instrument for separating and analyzing low-molecular-weight compounds. Combined with solid-phase microextraction and direct headspace sampling techniques, these analytes can be accurately detected and identified. Here, we present data on the characterization of VOCs produced by lysed Escherichia coli bacteria, as well as volatile seleno-compounds produced by filamentous fungi grown on selenium-enriched media. Our results show potentially novel VOCs from these microorganisms, raising questions as to their metabolic pathways and eco-evolutionary importance. Further, VOCs produced by E. coli during phage infection show promise in profiling bacterial species. All living organisms create gaseous byproducts of metabolism, often called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These metabolites serve many biological functions from cell communication to methods of environmental toxin tolerance. VOCs can be identified using gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry, a powerful instrument for separating and analyzing low-molecular-weight compounds. Combined with solid-phase microextraction and direct headspace sampling techniques, these analytes can be accurately detected and identified. Here, we present data on the characterization of VOCs produced by lysed Escherichia coli bacteria, as well as volatile seleno-compounds produced by filamentous fungi grown on selenium-enriched media. Our results show potentially novel VOCs from these microorganisms, raising questions as to their metabolic pathways and eco-evolutionary importance. Further, VOCs produced by E. coli during phage infection show promise in profiling bacterial species.
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University of Wyoming Libraries