Tracing the fate and transport of secondary plant metabolites in a laboratory mesocosm experiment by employing mass spectrometric imaging

Crecelius, Anna C.; Michalzik, Beate; Potthast, Karin; Meyer, Stefanie; Schubert, Ulrich S.
Mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) has received considerable attention in recent years, since it allows the molecular mapping of various compound classes, such as proteins, peptides, glycans, secondary metabolites, lipids, and drugs in animal, human, or plant tissue sections. In the present study, the application of laser-based MSI analysis of secondary plant metabolites to monitor their transport from the grass leaves of Dactylis glomerata, over the crop of the grasshopper Chorthippus dorsatus to its excrements, and finally in the soil solution is described. This plant-herbivore-soil pathway was investigated under controlled conditions by using laboratory mesocosms. From six targeted secondary plant metabolites (dehydroquinic acid, quinic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tricin, and rosmarinic acid), only quinic acid, and dehydroquinic acid, an in-source-decay (ISD) product of quinic acid, could be traced in nearly all compartments. The tentative identification of secondary plant metabolites was performed by MS/MS analysis of methanol extracts prepared from the investigated compartments, in both the positive and negative ion mode, and subsequently compared with the results generated from the reference standards. Except for tricin, all secondary metabolites could be tentatively identified by this approach. Additional liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) experiments were carried out to verify the MSI results and revealed the presence of quinic acid only in grass and chewed grass, whereas apigenin-hexoside-pentoside and luteolin-hexoisde-pentoside could be traced in the grasshopper body and excrement extracts. In summary, the MSI technique shows a trade-off between sensitivity and spatial resolution.
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Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemstry
3807 - 3820