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Metabolite Profiling of Stingless Honey Bee Samples using a MALDI-TOF MS Instrument

Untargeted Metabolite Profiling of Stingless Honey Bee Samples

February 25, 2021

Metabolomics, the last endpoint of the omics cascade, is the comprehensive study of metabolites present within a biological system. Analysis of metabolites provides insights into physiological, pathological, and biochemical changes during cellular regulation. Due to its recent advances, metabolomics has emerged as an important tool for entomological studies.

There is a pressing need for metabolite profiling of honey extracted from stingless honey bees to authenticate the originality with the increased incidences of fraud. Moreover, the potential antioxidant properties of stingless bee products are found to be crucial in the treatment of diseases associated with oxidative stress, microbial infections, and inflammatory disorders. Hence, it is important to ensure the originality of the honey samples. The mass spectrometry-based study of the secondary metabolites present in honey can provide insights about the origin of the honey.

Untargeted metabolomics had been the go-to approach for identifying biomarkers that can be used to assess the quality of honey, and Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI) MS & MS/MS is the gold standard approach for untargeted metabolomics. This impartial approach includes all the peaks during the high-throughput metabolite search. In this study, we tried to identify the unique metabolites from two randomly sampled stingless honey samples acquired using SCIEX MALDI TOF MS instrument. MS/MS data were acquired and SimMet® software was used for high-throughput analysis of the honey bee samples. The software used NIST's experimental MS & MS/MS databases to identify the metabolites. 90 unique metabolites were identified in one sample, while 192 unique metabolites were identified in the second sample. Only 29 common metabolites were identified among the two samples. A schematic workflow for high-throughput metabolite identification workflow is shown below:

Schematic Workflow for High-throughput Honey Motabolite Identification

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