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See detailThe role of analytical chemistry in exposure science: Focus on the aquatic environment
Hernández, F.; Bakker, J.; Bijlsma, L. et al

in Chemosphere (2019), 222

Exposure science, in its broadest sense, studies the interactions between stressors (chemical, biological, and physical agents) and receptors (e.g. humans and other living organisms, and non-living items ... [more ▼]

Exposure science, in its broadest sense, studies the interactions between stressors (chemical, biological, and physical agents) and receptors (e.g. humans and other living organisms, and non-living items like buildings), together with the associated pathways and processes potentially leading to negative effects on human health and the environment. The aquatic environment may contain thousands of compounds, many of them still unknown, that can pose a risk to ecosystems and human health. Due to the unquestionable importance of the aquatic environment, one of the main challenges in the field of exposure science is the comprehensive characterization and evaluation of complex environmental mixtures beyond the classical/priority contaminants to new emerging contaminants. The role of advanced analytical chemistry to identify and quantify potential chemical risks, that might cause adverse effects to the aquatic environment, is essential. In this paper, we present the strategies and tools that analytical chemistry has nowadays, focused on chromatography hyphenated to (high-resolution) mass spectrometry because of its relevance in this field. Key issues, such as the application of effect direct analysis to reduce the complexity of the sample, the investigation of the huge number of transformation/degradation products that may be present in the aquatic environment, the analysis of urban wastewater as a source of valuable information on our lifestyle and substances we consumed and/or are exposed to, or the monitoring of drinking water, are discussed in this article. The trends and perspectives for the next few years are also highlighted, when it is expected that new developments and tools will allow a better knowledge of chemical composition in the aquatic environment. This will help regulatory authorities to protect water bodies and to advance towards improved regulations that enable practical and efficient abatements for environmental and public health protection. [less ▲]

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See detailFuture water quality monitoring: improving the balance between exposure and toxicity assessments of real-world pollutant mixtures
Altenburger, Rolf; Brack, Werner; Burgess, Robert M. et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 12

Environmental water quality monitoring aims to provide the data required for safeguarding the environment against adverse biological effects from multiple chemical contamination arising from anthropogenic ... [more ▼]

Environmental water quality monitoring aims to provide the data required for safeguarding the environment against adverse biological effects from multiple chemical contamination arising from anthropogenic diffuse emissions and point sources. Here, we integrate the experience of the international EU-funded project SOLUTIONS to shift the focus of water monitoring from a few legacy chemicals to complex chemical mixtures, and to identify relevant drivers of toxic effects. Monitoring serves a range of purposes, from control of chemical and ecological status compliance to safeguarding specific water uses, such as drinking water abstraction. Various water sampling techniques, chemical target, suspect and non-target analyses as well as an array of in vitro, in vivo and in situ bioanalytical methods were advanced to improve monitoring of water contamination. Major improvements for broader applicability include tailored sampling techniques, screening and identification techniques for a broader and more diverse set of chemicals, higher detection sensitivity, standardized protocols for chemical, toxicological, and ecological assessments combined with systematic evidence evaluation techniques. No single method or combination of methods is able to meet all divergent monitoring purposes. Current monitoring approaches tend to emphasize either targeted exposure or effect detection. Here, we argue that, irrespective of the specific purpose, assessment of monitoring results would benefit substantially from obtaining and linking information on the occurrence of both chemicals and potentially adverse biological effects. In this paper, we specify the information required to: (1) identify relevant contaminants, (2) assess the impact of contamination in aquatic ecosystems, or (3) quantify cause--effect relationships between contaminants and adverse effects. Specific strategies to link chemical and bioanalytical information are outlined for each of these distinct goals. These strategies have been developed and explored using case studies in the Danube and Rhine river basins as well as for rivers of the Iberian Peninsula. Current water quality assessment suffers from biases resulting from differences in approaches and associated uncertainty analyses. While exposure approaches tend to ignore data gaps (i.e., missing contaminants), effect-based approaches penalize data gaps with increased uncertainty factors. This integrated work suggests systematic ways to deal with mixture exposures and combined effects in a more balanced way, and thus provides guidance for future tailored environmental monitoring. [less ▲]

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See detailMind the Gap: Mapping Mass Spectral Databases in Genome-Scale Metabolic Networks Reveals Poorly Covered Areas.
Frainay, Clement; Schymanski, Emma UL; Neumann, Steffen et al

in Metabolites (2018), 8(3),

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 ... [more ▼]

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. [less ▲]

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See detailPerformance of combined fragmentation and retention prediction for the identification of organic micropollutants by LC-HRMS.
Hu, Meng; Muller, Erik; Schymanski, Emma UL et al

in Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry (2018), 410(7), 1931-1941

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 ... [more ▼]

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. Graphical abstract Consensus workflow for combining fragmentation and retention prediction in LC-HRMS-based micropollutant identification. [less ▲]

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See detail"MS-Ready" structures for non-targeted high-resolution mass spectrometry screening studies.
McEachran, Andrew D.; Mansouri, Kamel; Grulke, Chris et al

in Journal of cheminformatics (2018), 10(1), 45

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 ... [more ▼]

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/ . [less ▲]

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See detailAnnotating Nontargeted LC-HRMS/MS Data with Two Complementary Tandem Mass Spectral Libraries
Oberacher, Herbert; Reinstadler, Vera; Kreidl, Marco et al

in Metabolites (2018), 9(1 3),

Tandem mass spectral databases are indispensable for fast and reliable compound identification in nontargeted analysis with liquid chromatography–high resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS/MS ... [more ▼]

Tandem mass spectral databases are indispensable for fast and reliable compound identification in nontargeted analysis with liquid chromatography–high resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS/MS), which is applied to a wide range of scientific fields. While many articles now review and compare spectral libraries, in this manuscript we investigate two high-quality and specialized collections from our respective institutes, recorded on different instruments (quadrupole time-of-flight or QqTOF vs. Orbitrap). The optimal range of collision energies for spectral comparison was evaluated using 233 overlapping compounds between the two libraries, revealing that spectra in the range of CE 20–50 eV on the QqTOF and 30–60 nominal collision energy units on the Orbitrap provided optimal matching results for these libraries. Applications to complex samples from the respective institutes revealed that the libraries, combined with a simple data mining approach to retrieve all spectra with precursor and fragment information, could confirm many validated target identifications and yield several new Level 2a (spectral match) identifications. While the results presented are not surprising in many ways, this article adds new results to the debate on the comparability of Orbitrap and QqTOF data and the application of spectral libraries to yield rapid and high-confidence tentative identifications in complex human and environmental samples. [less ▲]

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See detailExploring the Potential of a Global Emerging Contaminant Early Warning Network through the Use of Retrospective Suspect Screening with High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry.
Alygizakis, Nikiforos A.; Samanipour, Saer; Hollender, Juliane et al

in Environmental science & technology (2018), 52(9), 5135-5144

A key challenge in the environmental and exposure sciences is to establish experimental evidence of the role of chemical exposure in human and environmental systems. High resolution and accurate tandem ... [more ▼]

A key challenge in the environmental and exposure sciences is to establish experimental evidence of the role of chemical exposure in human and environmental systems. High resolution and accurate tandem mass spectrometry (HRMS) is increasingly being used for the analysis of environmental samples. One lauded benefit of HRMS is the possibility to retrospectively process data for (previously omitted) compounds that has led to the archiving of HRMS data. Archived HRMS data affords the possibility of exploiting historical data to rapidly and effectively establish the temporal and spatial occurrence of newly identified contaminants through retrospective suspect screening. We propose to establish a global emerging contaminant early warning network to rapidly assess the spatial and temporal distribution of contaminants of emerging concern in environmental samples through performing retrospective analysis on HRMS data. The effectiveness of such a network is demonstrated through a pilot study, where eight reference laboratories with available archived HRMS data retrospectively screened data acquired from aqueous environmental samples collected in 14 countries on 3 different continents. The widespread spatial occurrence of several surfactants (e.g., polyethylene glycols ( PEGs ) and C12AEO-PEGs ), transformation products of selected drugs (e.g., gabapentin-lactam, metoprolol-acid, carbamazepine-10-hydroxy, omeprazole-4-hydroxy-sulfide, and 2-benzothiazole-sulfonic-acid), and industrial chemicals (3-nitrobenzenesulfonate and bisphenol-S) was revealed. Obtaining identifications of increased reliability through retrospective suspect screening is challenging, and recommendations for dealing with issues such as broad chromatographic peaks, data acquisition, and sensitivity are provided. [less ▲]

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See detailExpanding the use of spectral libraries in proteomics.
Deutsch, Eric W.; Perez-Riverol, Yasset; Chalkley, Robert J. et al

in Journal of proteome research (2018)

The 2017 Dagstuhl Seminar on Computational Proteomics provided an opportunity for a broad discussion on the current state and future directions of the generation and use of peptide tandem mass ... [more ▼]

The 2017 Dagstuhl Seminar on Computational Proteomics provided an opportunity for a broad discussion on the current state and future directions of the generation and use of peptide tandem mass spectrometry spectral libraries. Their use in proteomics is growing slowly, but there are multiple challenges in the field that must be addressed to further increase the adoption of spectral libraries and related techniques. The primary bottlenecks are the paucity of high quality and comprehensive libraries and the general difficulty of adopting spectral library searching into existing workflows. There are several existing spectral library formats, but none capture a satisfactory level of metadata; therefore a logical next improvement is to design a more advanced, Proteomics Standards Initiative-approved spectral library format that can encode all of the desired metadata. The group discussed a series of metadata requirements organized into three designations of completeness or quality, tentatively dubbed bronze, silver, and gold. The metadata can be organized at four different levels of granularity: at the collection (library) level, at the individual entry (peptide ion) level, at the peak (fragment ion) level, and at the peak annotation level. Strategies for encoding mass modifications in a consistent manner and the requirement for encoding high-quality and commonly-seen but as-yet-unidentified spectra were discussed. The group also discussed related topics, including strategies for comparing two spectra, techniques for generating representative spectra for a library, approaches for selection of optimal signature ions for targeted workflows, and issues surrounding the merging of two or more libraries into one. We present here a review of this field and the challenges that the community must address in order to accelerate the adoption of spectral libraries in routine analysis of proteomics datasets. [less ▲]

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See detailDark Matter in host-microbiome metabolomics: Tackling the unknowns-A review
Peisl, Beatrice Yasmin Loulou UL; Schymanski, Emma UL; Wilmes, Paul UL

in Analytica Chimica Acta (2017)

The “dark matter” in metabolomics (unknowns) represents an exciting frontier with significant potential for discovery in relation to biochemistry, yet it also presents one of the largest challenges to ... [more ▼]

The “dark matter” in metabolomics (unknowns) represents an exciting frontier with significant potential for discovery in relation to biochemistry, yet it also presents one of the largest challenges to overcome. This focussed review takes a close look at the current state-of-the-art and future challenges in tackling the unknowns with specific focus on the human gut microbiome and host-microbe interactions. Metabolomics, like metabolism itself, is a very dynamic discipline, with many workflows and methods under development, both in terms of chemical analysis and post-analysis data processing. Here, we look at developments in the mutli-omic analyses and the use of mass spectrometry to investigate the exchange of metabolites between the host and the microbiome as well as the environment within the microbiome. A case study using HuMiX, a microfluidics-based human-microbial co-culture system that enables the co-culture of human and microbial cells under controlled conditions, is used to highlight opportunities and current limitations. Common definitions, approaches, databases and elucidation techniques from both the environmental and metabolomics fields are covered, with perspectives on how to merge these, as the boundaries blur between the fields. While reflecting on the number of unknowns remaining to be conquered in typical complexsamples measured with mass spectrometry (often ordersof magnitude above the “knowns”), we provide an outlook on future perspectives and challenges in elucidating the relevant “dark matter”. [less ▲]

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