Analysis of single algal cells by combining mass spectrometry with Raman and fluorescence mapping†
In order to investigate metabolic properties of single cells of freshwater algae (Haematococcus pluvialis), we implement matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) in combination with microspectroscopic mapping. Straightforward coupling of these two detection platforms was possible thanks to the self-aliquoting properties of micro-arrays for mass spectrometry (MAMS). Following Raman and fluorescence imaging, the isolated cells were covered with a MALDI matrix for targeted metabolic analysis by MALDI-MS. The three consecutive measurements carried out on the same cells yielded complementary information. Using this method, we were able to study the encystment of H. pluvialis – by monitoring the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) ratio during the build-up of astaxanthin in the cells as well as the release of β-carotene, the precursor of astaxanthin, into the cytosol.