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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2011 Jul;22(7):1273-84. doi: 10.1007/s13361-011-0110-3. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Direct laser desorption ionization of endogenous and exogenous compounds from insect cuticles: practical and methodologic aspects.

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Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, Robert-Koch-Str. 31, 48149, Münster, Germany.


We recently demonstrated that ultraviolet laser desorption ionization orthogonal time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UV-LDI o-TOF MS) could be used for the matrix-free analysis of cuticular lipids (unsaturated aliphatic and oxygen-containing hydrocarbons and triacylglycerides) directly from individual Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies (Yew, J. Y.; Dreisewerd, K.; Luftmann, H.; Pohlentz, G.; Kravitz, E. A., Curr. Biol. 2009, 19, 1245-1254). In this report, we show that the cuticular hydrocarbon, fatty acid, and triglyceride profiles of other insects and spiders can also be directly analyzed from intact body parts. Mandibular pheromones from the jaw of a queen honey bee are provided as one example. In addition, we describe analytical features and examine mechanisms underlying the methodology. Molecular ions of lipids can be generated by direct UV-LDI when non-endogenous compounds are applied to insect wings or other body parts. Current sensitivity limits are in the 10 pmol range. We show also the dependence of ion signal intensity on collisional cooling gas pressure in the ion source, laser wavelength (varied between 280-380 nm and set to 2.94 μm for infrared LDI), and laser pulse energy.

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