Austria Focus

January 1, 2008

LCGC Europe

LCGC Europe, LCGC Europe-01-01-2008, Volume 21, Issue 1
Page Number: 29–32

Research Group: Prof. Ernst Lankmayr, Institute for Analytical Chemistry and Radiochemistry, Graz University of Technology, Graz.

Research Group: Prof. Ernst Lankmayr, Institute for Analytical Chemistry and Radiochemistry, Graz University of Technology, Graz.

Research Focus: The main focus of this group is to simplify sample preparation techniques to isolate trace components from complex environmental or biological sample matrices to allow interference-free chromatographic or spectroscopic measurements. Novel extraction techniques such as microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) or fluidized-bed extraction (FBE) are also being characterized and validated.

The integration of isotopically labelled standards allows the efficiency of operational, ecological and economic factors to be optimized. Special emphasis is also given to further sample fractionation, enrichment and derivatization (if necessary). The implementation of chemometrical procedures helps to solve problems considerably

Chromatographic research includes method developments using gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with hyphenated techniques. Special interests are environmental and food monitoring as well as bio-organic trace analysis.

The monitoring of pesticides and other hazardous compounds has been established within the framework of international projects. A number of different projects are handled in cooperation with partners from industry and science. Examples include the development of MS methods to determine a variety of different drugs in human body fluids using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC–MS) or gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS). A single-step simultaneous headspace extraction and derivatization procedure for the quantification of fatty acids, which act as inhibitors in biogas fermentation, has been designed. In

addition, triple quadrupole (TQ) LC–MS–MS is applied to screen cell-membrane phospholipid profiles in complex matrices, which aims to correlate their changes with microorganism populations during fermentation for monitoring biogas production.

Another focus of the group is the novel method development in LC–MS to improve MS detection specificity. The most recent project is a patented mass spectrometric technique in collaboration with Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex for the experimental reduction of chemical background noise in atmospheric pressure ionization (API) LC–MS–MS for bio-organic trace analysis.


Research Group: Prof. Wolfgang W. Buchberger, Institute of Analytical Chemistry, Johannes-Kepler-University, Linz.

Research Focus: The research of this group deals with advanced analytical separation techniques for organic trace analysis. Optimization strategies are developed for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC), and capillary electrophoresis (CE) combined with mass spectrometry (MS). Attention is also paid to hybrid techniques such as electrokinetic chromatography (EKC) with pseudostationary phases. Special emphasis is put on the investigation of capillary electrophoretic separation techniques hyphenated with novel mass spectrometric detectors based on new ionization modes such as atmospheric pressure photoionization. In this way, improved selectivity and sensitivity is achieved and new applications have become possible. In addition, activities in the area of two-dimensional (2D) comprehensive chromatography (LC×LC and GC×GC) have started.

The expertise available within the research team has been used for residue analysis of pharmaceuticals and personal care products introduced into the environment from sewage treatment plant effluents or sewage sludge used as fertilizer. Furthermore, improved procedures have been developed for residues of xenobiotics (including pesticides) in food. These applications also require the availability of efficient sample preparation techniques. For this reason, selective preconcentration procedures based on solid-phase extraction (SPE) with novel stationary phases such as molecular imprinted polymers (MIPs) are investigated.

Besides fundamental investigations in separation science, a significant part of the ongoing research work is done in cooperation with the regional industry. These activities typically deal with analysis of impurities in various pharmaceutical products and fine chemicals. Furthermore, new instrumentation is evaluated for quality control (QC) during chemical production processes. Most recently, the research work has been extended to polymer analysis. A challenge in this area is the analysis of polymer additives (such as antioxidants, UV stabilizers, and others) and their degradation products at low levels in various technical polymer materials.


Research Group: Prof. Kevin Francesconi, Dr Walter Goessler, Dr Doris Kuehnelt and Dr Georg Raber, Institute of Chemistry – Analytical Chemistry, Karl-Franzens University Graz, Graz.

Research Focus: The research group at Uni-Graz develops analytical methods for investigations into species of metals and metalloids of toxicological, nutritional, biological and environmental interest. The techniques are based on separation of the species by HPLC or GC, and selective detection of the species by atomic- and molecular mass spectrometry. Current research topics are: human metabolism and toxicology of arsenic compounds present in food and water; biotransformation of arsenic in the environment; identification of lipid-soluble arsenic compounds in foods; selenium metabolism in humans and animals; and cadmium-binding proteins in crustaceans.

The HPLC separations cover a range of conditions including normal phase (NP), reversed-phase (RP) and ion-exchange chromatography (IEC). More recently, gas chromatographic separations have been investigated for determining lipid-soluble arsenic compounds found in many foods. The species are detected initially by atomic mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS), while structural elucidation is achieved with electrospray mass spectrometry. The group has active collaborations with Karolinska Institute in Sweden (human health aspects of arsenic), Roswell Park Cancer Clinic, USA (selenium metabolism), Johns Hopkins University USA (arsenic epidemiology), Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia (arsenic metabolism), Southern Denmark University (arsenic lipids in foods), Curtin University in Australia (Cd-proteins), and Teikyo University in Japan (arsenic and selenium toxicology).

The Graz group recently applied a novel combination of HPLC separations and mass spectrometric detection to identify for the first time arsenic-containing fatty acids in cod liver oil, a nutritionally important food supplement.


Research group: Prof. Alois Jungbauer, Laboratory of Protein Technology and Downstream Processing at Department of Biotechnology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Austria.

Research Focus: The fundamentals of engineering in biological product recovery are the core activities of the Laboratory of Protein Technology and Downstream Processing. The group is focusing on the isolation, purification and characterization of proteins, plasmids, viruses and cells. Currently mass transfer and thermodynamic phenomenons in bulk crystallization, chromatography and chromatographic reactors are being investigated. This is the basis for rational process design and scale-up. Research is also performed in phase development and the generation of novel affinity ligands for affinity chromatography. Biological or chemical peptide libraries are employed. In the past five years downstream processing of steroid hormone receptors, antibodies and autocatalytic fusion proteins were investigated.

A strong emphasis has been placed on the separation of large biomolecules with monolithic columns. Monoliths are continuous stationary phases cast as a homogenous column in a single piece prepared in various dimensions with agglomeration-type or fibrous microstructures. They are considered as the latest type of stationary phases to separate all kinds of biomolecules. We focused on monoliths suited for the preparative and industrial separation of biomolecules. Monoliths with different surface functionalities can be stacked into a single column. This means multidimensional chromatography is possible without column switching. Monoliths with macropores do not show mass transfer resistancy. and peak dispersion is dominated by hydrodynamic contributions.

Another focus of the laboratory is the understanding of the separation of antibodies and glycoproteins. The mass transfer mechanism of staphylococcal protein A affinity chromatography and hydrophobic interaction chromatography media is investigated in detail. The selectivity of these separation processes is analysed by differential gel electrophoresis and other proteomics tools to gain an insight into protein removal on a molecular level. The laboratory aims to integrate process science, molecular and macroscopic modelling and

high-resolution protein analytics. This will allow developing predictable bioprocesses and will contribute to rational process design.


Research Group: Prof. Rudolf Krska and Prof. Rainer Schuhmacher, Center for Analytical Chemistry, Department for Agrobiotechnology (IFA-Tulln), University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna.

Research Focus: The Center for Analytical Chemistry (CAC) at the IFA-Tulln has gained an international reputation in the field of chromatography and organic mass spectrometry (MS). MS-based analytical methods— gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS), liquid chromatography mass spectrometry mass spectrometry (LC–MS–MS) — have been established at the CAC to study fungal and plant metabolites to identify and characterize bioactive compounds, and to investigate the metabolism of toxic compounds in biological samples. Major emphasis has always been put onto the accurate quantification of the determined compounds together with sound analytical quality assurance (QA).

Recently the research interests of the group have been focused on studying interactions between living organisms such as plants and microbes, and microbes with other microbes. For this purpose the instrumental equipment at the CAC has been complemented with two triple quadrupole mass spectrometers equipped with linear ion-traps and an LTQ-OrbiTrap. Recently, a multi-analyte method was developed by researchers that can simultaneously determine 87 fungal metabolites in food and feed commodities. The ultimate goal of metabolomics research at the IFA-Tulln is to improve the understanding of complex biological systems such as plants and microbes. An example for successful research of the IFA-Tulln in this area was discovering that the ability of wheat to detoxify the relevant mycotoxin deoxynivalenol into its nontoxic glucosidic form can be directly linked to recently identified resistance genes.


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