Influence of extraction solvent on nontargeted metabolomics analysis of enrichment reactor cultures performing enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)
Reference: Metabolites (2021) 11: 269

Metabolome profiling is becoming more commonly used in the study of complex microbial communities and microbiomes; however, to date, little information is available concerning appropriate extraction procedures. We studied the influence of different extraction solvent mixtures on untargeted metabolomics analysis of two continuous culture enrichment communities performing enhanced biological phosphate removal (EBPR), with each enrichment targeting distinct populations of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs). We employed one non-polar solvent and up to four polar solvents for extracting metabolites from biomass. In one of the reactor microbial communities, we surveyed both intracellular and extracellular metabolites using the same set of solvents. All samples were analysed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). UPLC-MS data obtained from polar and non-polar solvents were analysed separately and evaluated using extent of repeatability, overall extraction capacity and the extent of differential abundance between physiological states. Despite both reactors demonstrating the same bioprocess phenotype, the most appropriate extraction method was biomass specific, with methanol: water (50:50 v/v) and methanol: chloroform: water (40:40:20 v/v) being chosen as the most appropriate for each of the two different bioreactors, respectively. Our approach provides new data on the influence of solvent choice on the untargeted surveys of the metabolome of PAO enriched EBPR communities and suggests that metabolome extraction methods need to be carefully tailored to the specific complex microbial community under study.

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