Single Cell Analysis with the icpTOF Reveals Ecotoxicological Effects of Metals

Single Cell-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Time of Fight-Mass Spectrometry Approach for Ecotoxicological Testing

von der Au, M.; Borovinskaya, O.; Flamigni, L.; Kuhlmeier, K.; Büchel, C.; Meermann, B.
Algal Research
DOI:10.1016/j.algal.2020.101964

The icpTOF can detect all elements in an individual cell and is an ideal tool for studying the cell ionome and its response to toxic substances.

Diatoms are very sensitive to environmental changes and are therefore commonly used in ecotoxicological tests as indicators of metal pollution or climatic changes. Most ecotoxicological data is collected solely based on the photosystem of the algae. The use of an alternative analytical method is advantageous to increase data compatibility.

This paper discusses the study of the ionome (elemental composition) of single cells as a way to help improve the results compatibility and provide a better understanding of toxicity mechanisms.

The elements Mg, P, Si, and Fe are useful fingerprint elements in algae and can be applied to track individual cells and their response to Zn toxicity. The authors show that single cell analysis with the icpTOF in combination with the multivariate data treatment is a great tool for cell classification. The results of this work may help in future studies to improve our understanding of combined toxicity effects from different substances.