Identifying Molecules that Influence Microbial Communities


Understanding how bacteria, algae, and other microbes influence or communicate with each other by exchanging molecules could provide insights useful for advancing sustainable bioenergy. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory used a novel technique that noninvasively analyzes microbes to profile chemicals produced by a cyanobacterium to influence nearby microorganisms.
Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 was found to steadily secrete two molecules, sucrose and glucosylglycerol, that nearby bacteria could use as resources. The technique that was used to chemically profile the microbial communities in both space and time is nanospray desorption ionization electrospray mass spectrometry, or nano-DESI, developed at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a DOE scientific user facility. This research appeared on the March 2013 cover of Analyst.


Lanekoff, I., O. Geydebrekht, G. E. Pinchuk, A. E. Konopka, and J. Laskin. 2013. “Spatially Resolved
Analysis of Glycolipids and Metabolites in Living Synechococcus Sp. PCC 7002 Using Nanospray Desorption
Electrospray Ionization,” Analyst 138(7), 19112200. DOI: 10.1039/C3AN36716A.