MALDI mass spectrometric imaging meets “omics”: recent advances in the fruitful marriage
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric imaging (MALDI MSI) is a method that allows the investigation of the molecular content of surfaces, in particular, tissues, within its morphological context. The applications of MALDI MSI in the field of large-scale mass spectrometric studies, which are typically denoted by the suffix “omics”, are steadily increasing. This is because, on the one hand, technical advances regarding sample collection and preparation, matrix application, instrumentation, and data processing have enhanced the molecular specificity and sensitivity of MALDI MSI; on the other hand, the focus of the “omics” community has moved from establishing an inventory of certain compound classes to exploring their spatial distribution to gain novel insights. Thus, the aim of this mini-review is twofold, to display the state-of-the-art in terms of technical aspects in MALDI MSI and to highlight selected applications in the last two years, which either have significantly advanced a certain “omics” field or have introduced a new one through pioneering efforts.