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Anal Chem. 2011 Oct 15;83(20):7608-13. doi: 10.1021/ac2020273. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Leaf spray: direct chemical analysis of plant material and living plants by mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


The chemical constituents of intact plant material, including living plants, are examined by a simple spray method that provides real-time information on sugars, amino acids, fatty acids, lipids, and alkaloids. The experiment is applicable to various plant parts and is demonstrated for a wide variety of species. An electrical potential is applied to the plant and its natural sap, or an applied solvent generates an electrospray that carries endogenous chemicals into an adjacent benchtop or miniature mass spectrometer. The sharp tip needed to create a high electric field can be either natural (e.g., bean sprout) or a small nick can be cut in a leaf, fruit, bark, etc. Stress-induced changes in glucosinolates can be followed on the minute time scale in several plants, including potted vegetables. Differences in spatial distributions and the possibility of studying plant metabolism are demonstrated.

© 2011 American Chemical Society

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