Our skin, our belongings, the world surrounding us, and the environment we live in are covered with molecular traces. Detecting and characterizing these molecular traces is necessary to understand the environmental impact on human health and disease, and to decipher complex molecular interactions between humans and other species, particularly microbiota.
Theodore Alexandrov’s team at EMBL and Pieter Dorrestein’s at UC San Diego first developed the method to explore how molecules from our surroundings affect the microbe communities on our skin.
They recently introduced 3D molecular cartography for mapping small organic molecules (including metabolites, lipids, and environmental molecules) found on various surfaces, including the human body.
Mass-spectrometry-based molecular cartography sets a new paradigm for investigating the spatial distribution of, in principle, any MS-detectable molecule on any surface, including biological surfaces on a macroscopic scale, for formulating new hypotheses and for facilitating the interpretation of molecular data captured in the spatial context.
Source: Nature Protocols