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Measurement equipment for small molecules

Media Release
12 November 2003

HortResearch invests over a million in measurement equipment for small molecules

To support its expanding research into flavour and functional foods HortResearch will purchase two gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) machines costing just over $1 million in total. The HortResearch Board approved the purchase last week. These instruments are used to identify volatile molecules and can be used, for example to identify all the compounds produced by ripe fruit.

Gene technologies leader, Dr Matt Templeton said, “The new machines will play a key role in identifying new plant compounds that could contribute to the development of functional foods linked with human health and performance. They are essential for our work on flavour and for new initiatives such as nutrigenomics and metabolomics.

“Our current machines are 15 years old. The new high throughput machine is 10 times faster than our current machine and its advanced software cuts our data analysis time by 75 percent. This new machine will be used at HortResearch’s site at Mt Albert in Auckland where it will be central to research programmes on flavour, sensory and food science.

“The second machine, with high resolution capability, is crucial for our projects that involve synthetic chemistry such as our biosecurity work with moth pheromones and analysis of flavour compounds in fruit. This machine will be located at Palmerston North where we are developing a metabolomics platform with AgResearch for discovery and identification of new plant compounds.”

HortResearch CEO Paul McGilvary said, “Our new research initiatives are dependent on the identification and characterisation of the molecules in fruit. To achieve this requires access to modern GC-MS instruments with software designed for automated collection, analysis and transfer of information into databases and analytical software. It is a core capability in our strategic plan.”

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