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Photosynth Res. 2009 Nov-Dec;102(2-3):511-22. doi: 10.1007/s11120-009-9474-7.

On-line mass spectrometry: membrane inlet sampling.

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School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


Significant insights into plant photosynthesis and respiration have been achieved using membrane inlet mass spectrometry (MIMS) for the analysis of stable isotope distribution of gases. The MIMS approach is based on using a gas permeable membrane to enable the entry of gas molecules into the mass spectrometer source. This is a simple yet durable approach for the analysis of volatile gases, particularly atmospheric gases. The MIMS technique strongly lends itself to the study of reaction flux where isotopic labeling is employed to differentiate two competing processes; i.e., O(2) evolution versus O(2) uptake reactions from PSII or terminal oxidase/rubisco reactions. Such investigations have been used for in vitro studies of whole leaves and isolated cells. The MIMS approach is also able to follow rates of isotopic exchange, which is useful for obtaining chemical exchange rates. These types of measurements have been employed for oxygen ligand exchange in PSII and to discern reaction rates of the carbonic anhydrase reactions. Recent developments have also engaged MIMS for online isotopic fractionation and for the study of reactions in inorganic systems that are capable of water splitting or H(2) generation. The simplicity of the sampling approach coupled to the high sensitivity of modern instrumentation is a reason for the growing applicability of this technique for a range of problems in plant photosynthesis and respiration. This review offers some insights into the sampling approaches and and the experiments that have been conducted with MIMS.

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