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The study of life sciences spreads across a wide array of topics such as food and agriculture, ecology, microbiology, genetics, and forensics, just to name a few. Without chromatography, we would have a lot of unanswered questions. Additionally, we wouldn’t have been able to identify whether certain food is safe to eat. For those searching for more information about the life science applications of chromatography, our experts have you covered. We put together this guide below to help others better understand how chromatography has changed all our lives for the better.

Food and agriculture

As indicated by Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs in 1943, everyone has physiological needs. Included in physiological needs are food, water, and shelter, and there’s no question that chromatography has helped our study of both food and water. But before labs can analyze food, they must look at the source of food––either a manufacturer of processed food or agriculture. Different methods of chromatography give labs the ability to analyze several factors of food, including plant growth hormones, egg glycoproteins, contaminants, nutrients, additives, and more. Spoilage detection is one of the most notable uses of chromatography in the food industry, and rightfully so. Through several tests, lab technicians can determine the quality of an aliment by measuring the bacteria through separating mixtures.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to come by produce that wasn’t sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, even when buying organic. Through chromatography, the EPA and FDA are holding companies and farms accountable by testing their crops before they reach the shelves. Most labs will use both gas and liquid chromatography methods during pesticide analysis.

Alternatively, grocery store shelves are full of processed foods which can also raise health concerns. To make foods appear more appealing and taste better, companies pack their foods with additives. As we know, too many additives and processed foods can result in health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, but that doesn’t mean we can’t consume them. Chromatography merely helps the FDA clearly recognize the amount and type of additives. Furthermore, labs will use chromatography to analyze the nutritional value of a particular food. Lab technicians can identify important facts such as vitamins and proteins.

Molecular biology

Liquid chromatography is best used in a biological setting as it helps scientists analyze molecules individually and quickly. Molecular biology is arguably most common throughout the pharmaceutical industry, and proteins and nucleic acids are among the most common molecules that lab techs search for. Without chromatography, researchers wouldn’t be able to analyze and purify molecules in a mixture, and they would thus not be able to reach an accurate conclusion. Instead, the practice of biological separation has made a significant impact on the health and wellness of millions of people through pharmaceutical drugs. While molecular biology is common in the pharmaceutical industry, it also has applications in the food industry as previously discussed.

Genetic and forensic analysis

Forensic scientists frequently work with chromatography for testing evidence from crime scenes and developing pathology and toxicology reports. Detectives and law enforcement professionals often bring hair and blood samples from the crime scene which allow the lab technician to begin DNA tests. Scientists often use gas chromatography when running pathology tests to help them determine vital decisions such as cause of death and a motive.

Gas chromatography is a largely helpful method for investigating arson. Lab techs can collect evidence from the scene and use a gas chromatography machine to test fire debris for any flammable liquids. Though, for more accurate results, scientists will often run additional tests with other analytical instruments such as mass spectrometers.

On a lighter note, research facilities use different chromatography methods to test DNA and make discoveries about DNA. For instance, several scientists came together after decades of research and found that people who are left-handed have a DNA dynamic genetic code. Additionally, much of the DNA research that scientists discover is shared among medical professionals to make more precise decisions on a solution for someone’s medical condition.

Animal ecology

Thin layer, gas, and high-performance liquid chromatography are all methods that are common in studying animal ecology. In most scenarios, scientists test bodily fluids such as bile acid and dung to better understand the animal’s health state. Furthermore, many wild animals are difficult to observe, so testing the animal’s bodily fluids is an ideal method for learning more about the type of species, their diet, and more.

Similar to testing our food and agriculture, lab techs also use chromatography methods to test animal feed. In most cases the scientists are looking for the same factors they would for the food we eat in addition to nutrients, proteins, pesticides, and overall feed quality.

As this guide has shown, there are several life science applications of chromatography, and there are still plenty more applications. Life science studies any living “thing” on Earth, and that clearly expands a wide array of “things.” Some other applications of chromatography include several variations of biology, analysis in metabolomics, proteomics, and clinical studies. The most fascinating part of all these applications is that many of them work together, lead to further research, and provide more precise data to work with when formulating hypotheses.

Regardless which of these industries you primarily study, there’s no question that you need high-quality and reliable analytical instruments. A scientist can only research as far as their equipment allows, and if you’re working with unreliable equipment, your tests could lose accuracy and you could lose vital data. To ensure you have reliable equipment, consider purchasing used analytical instruments from GenTech Scientific. Our team takes pride in their work and helps organizations conduct research with quality machines without breaking the bank. Our refurbishing crew has extensive industry experience, giving them the know-how they need to bring used machines back to life. Because we do all the refurbishing in-house, we have the opportunity to provide personalized customer service for two reasons. First, our professionals repaired the machine you purchased; we know the industry inside and out. Additionally, our team knows the industry well, and we know what you need. We understand how important research and data is, and that’s why we refuse to cut corners on quality and always ensure the best quality machine is leaving our facility. If you’re interested in high-quality lab equipment that’s fairly priced, look no further than GenTech Scientific. Contact us today for your next free quote.

Applications of Chromatography