In a moment of stunning brilliance on my part I managed to convince the school to purchase an autosampler for our Thermo GC-MS. This wasn’t actually that difficult once I’d pointed out that the $120,000 instrument was effectively unusable for research without one.
After a lot of contemplation we opted for the Gerstel Multi-Purpose Sampler as this seemed to be the most flexible platform and wasn’t manufacturer-specific. This was an important consideration given the 10 year age of the GC-MS so if we upgraded to an Agilent GC-MS in the next few years <cough! cough! Hint, hint> then we’d be able to transfer it to the new instrument without issue.
The MPS was installed about 6 weeks ago and has already injected more samples into the GC-MS than it saw in most of the previous year! Awesome is the power of automation! I cannot wait to set up some automated sample prep. I am really keen to try methyl chloroformate derivatisation for metabolite profiling of biogenic amines, organic acids and other small metabolites. Silas Villas-Boas of Auckland University School of Biological Sciences and his PhD student Sergey Tumanov very kindly shared their method (1) and library with me and I have been itching to try it out.
Many thanks to Gerstel for a beautifully constructed and controlled instrument and also to Udo Rupprecht of Lasersan for doing the install and providing support.
Here’s a picture of the beast. You can almost smell the barely contained analytical potential!
(1) Smart, K. F.; Aggio, R. M. B.; VanHoutte, J. R. and Villas-Bôas, S.G. 2010. Analytical platform for metabolome analysis of microbial cells using methyl chloroformate derivatization followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Nature Protocols 5: 1709 – 1729. doi:10.1038/nprot.2010.108