The Column - May 2009 - (Page 11)

May 2009 The Column News Jurassic Peak News dinosaur’s protein family tree is closer to that of modern birds than that of alligators. Schweitzer says, “These data not only build upon what we got from the T. rex, they take the research even further. I’m hoping in the future we can use this work as a jumping off point to look for other proteins that are more species-specific than collagen. It will give us much clearer insight into all sorts of evolutionary questions.” 1. 2. M.H. Schweitzer, J.M. Asara et al., Science, 324(5927), 626–631 (2009). C.L. Organ, M.H. Schweitzer et al., Science, 320(5875), 499 (2008). Protein sequence data from an 80 million year old dinosaur has lent more evidence to the idea that soft tissues and original proteins can be preserved over time — even in fossilized remains.1 In 2008 a mix of palaeontologists and medical researchers analysed soft tissue from a 68 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex.2 Mass spectrometry supported their theory that the materials were original proteins from the dinosaur, but these papers were controversial, and the team wanted to demonstrate that molecular preservation of Cretaceous dinosaurs was not an isolated event. Based on predictions for the best conditions for preservation, a femur from a Hadrosaur was selected. “We know the moment the fossil is removed from chemical equilibrium, any organic remains immediately become susceptible to degradation. The more quickly we can get it from the ground to a test tube, the better chance we have of recovering original tissues and molecules” said Dr Mary Schweitzer. The samples were examined microscopically to confirm that they were consistent in appearance with collagen, then analysed with a mass spectrometer of much greater resolution than the one used in the previous study. The team were able to identify eight collagen peptides from the Hadrosaur. The sequence data suggested that, like T. rex, this Jason Edwards/Getty Images Send in the hounds Calling in search dogs to sniff out a body is a fairly typical procedure for law enforcement agencies. In an effort to improve the success rates of these units, American scientists are attempting to isolate the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that these dogs track.1 Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) has been combined with gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) to identify the VOCs released into the headspace associated with 14 separate tissue samples of human remains previously used for VR canine training. The headspace was found to contain various types of VOCs, including acids, alcohols, aldehydes and aromatic hydrocarbons and these were found to be similar across different types of tissue. The resulting data will now be used to assist in the identification of the most suitable mixture and relative concentrations to be used in the creation of training aids. 1. E.M. Hoffman et al., Forensic Sci. Int., 186(1), 6–13 (2009). 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Column - May 2009

The Column - May 2009
Q&A: Is Green the New Black?
Market Trends and Analysis
Quantification of Pharmaceuticals from Diminishing Small Volumes of Blood Using the UHC Small Molecule Chip Coupled to Triple Quadrupole MS
An Investigation of the Impact of Common Experimental Parameters on Signal Intensity in SFC–ESI-MS
Multicolumn Preparative SFC: An Advanced Solution to Scale-up Difficulties
Introduction to HPLC 2009
HPLC 2009 Guide

The Column - May 2009