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J Sci Food Agric. 2019 Apr 30. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.9769. [Epub ahead of print]

Determination of imidacloprid and its relevant metabolites in tomato using modified QuEChERS combined with ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography/Orbitrap tandem mass spectrometry.

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College of Chemical Engineering, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Urumqi, China.



Red tomato processing is one of the leading industries in Xinjiang, but also the largest export industry. In the process of tomato planting, imidacloprid (IMI) is often used to kill aphids, which poses the risk of pesticide residue. However, as daily consumables, pesticide residue on tomatoes may cause a potential threat to human health. Therefore the aims of this research were to study the residue dynamics of IMI pesticides in tomatoes by monitoring field experiments and to investigate the fate of IMI and its metabolites under Xinjiang field conditions.


In the field trials, three different doses of IMI were sprayed on tomato during the fruit setting stage. Degradation of IMI and residue behaviors of its metabolites at different stages were systemically traced and evaluated by ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC/Q-Orbitrap MS). An accurate mass tool was used as the main method to identify the IMI metabolites. The improved method showed high efficiency in detecting IMI and 6-chlorinated nicotinic acid (6-CNA), being able to determine hazardous pesticides at trace levels. The fate of IMI in field tomato was investigated over 28 days. The metabolic mechanism of IMI in tomato is: OH products in the early stage and carbonyl products in the late stage.


Under natural conditions, pesticides in tomatoes will gradually decrease with time. In this process, olefin IMI is produced, but it is almost completely metabolized after 28 days. Therefore even 10 times the recommended dose of IMI pesticide will not endanger human health. © 2019 Society of Chemical Industry.


Q-Orbitrap MS; imidacloprid; metabolites; tomato


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