Long-Term Metabolomics Reference Material



The use of quality control samples in metabolomics ensures data quality, reproducibility, and comparability between studies, analytical platforms, and laboratories. Long-term, stable, and sustainable reference materials (RMs) are a critical component of the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) system; however, the limited selection of currently available matrix-matched RMs reduces their applicability for widespread use. To produce an RM in any context, for any matrix that is robust to changes over the course of time, we developed iterative batch averaging method (IBAT). To illustrate this method, we generated 11 independently grown Escherichia coli batches and made an RM over the course of 10 IBAT iterations. We measured the variance of these materials by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and showed that IBAT produces a stable and sustainable RM over time. This E. coli RM was then used as a food source to produce a Caenorhabditis elegans RM for a metabolomics experiment. The metabolite extraction of this material, alongside 41 independently grown individual C. elegans samples of the same genotype, allowed us to estimate the proportion of sample variation in preanalytical steps. From the NMR data, we found that 40% of the metabolite variance is due to the metabolite extraction process and analysis and 60% is due to sample-to-sample variance. The availability of RMs in untargeted metabolomics is one of the predominant needs of the metabolomics community that reach beyond quality control practices. IBAT addresses this need by facilitating the production of biologically relevant RMs and increasing their widespread use.