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Methods Mol Biol. 2013;1011:277-86. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-414-2_22.

Metabolite profiling of plant tissues by liquid chromatography Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry.

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Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB, Gent, Belgium.


Plants accumulate an overwhelming variety of secondary metabolites that play important roles in defense and interaction of the plant with its environment. To investigate the dynamics of plant secondary metabolism, large-scale untargeted metabolite profiling (metabolomics) is mandatory. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for untargeted metabolite profiling in which methanol extracts of jasmonate-treated plant tissues are analyzed by reversed-phase liquid chromatography coupled to negative-ion electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (MS). By means of dedicated integration and alignment software, the relative abundance of thousands of mass peaks, corresponding to hundreds of compounds, is calculated, and mass peaks of which the area is significantly changed by jasmonate treatment are identified. Subsequently, the metabolites corresponding to the significantly changed peaks are tentatively annotated using the accurate mass prediction of the Fourier transform-MS and the generated MS/MS data. Via this method, compounds of medium polarity, such as glucosinolates, alkaloids, phenylpropanoids, flavonoids, polyamines, and saponins, can be analyzed.

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