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1.  Determination of Volatile Compounds in Four Commercial Samples of Japanese Green Algae Using Solid Phase Microextraction Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:289780.
Green algae are of great economic importance. Seaweed is consumed fresh or as seasoning in Japan. The commercial value is determined by quality, color, and flavor and is also strongly influenced by the production area. Our research, based on solid phase microextraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-MS), has revealed that volatile compounds differ intensely in the four varieties of commercial green algae. Accordingly, 41 major volatile compounds were identified. Heptadecene was the most abundant compound from Okayama (Ulva prolifera), Tokushima (Ulva prolifera), and Ehime prefecture (Ulva linza). Apocarotenoids, such as ionones, and their derivatives were prominent volatiles in algae from Okayama (Ulva prolifera) and Tokushima prefecture (Ulva prolifera). Volatile, short chained apocarotenoids are among the most potent flavor components and contribute to the flavor of fresh, processed algae, and algae-based products. Benzaldehyde was predominant in seaweed from Shizuoka prefecture (Monostroma nitidum). Multivariant statistical analysis (PCA) enabled simple discrimination of the samples based on their volatile profiles. This work shows the potential of SPME-GC-MS coupled with multivariant analysis to discriminate between samples of different geographical and botanical origins and form the basis for development of authentication methods of green algae products, including seasonings.
PMCID: PMC3921977  PMID: 24592162
2.  Noninvasive detection of lung cancer by analysis of exhaled breath 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:348.
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Europe and the western world. At present, diagnosis of lung cancer very often happens late in the course of the disease since inexpensive, non-invasive and sufficiently sensitive and specific screening methods are not available. Even though the CT diagnostic methods are good, it must be assured that "screening benefit outweighs risk, across all individuals screened, not only those with lung cancer". An early non-invasive diagnosis of lung cancer would improve prognosis and enlarge treatment options. Analysis of exhaled breath would be an ideal diagnostic method, since it is non-invasive and totally painless.
Exhaled breath and inhaled room air samples were analyzed using proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) and solid phase microextraction with subsequent gas chromatography mass spectrometry (SPME-GCMS). For the PTR-MS measurements, 220 lung cancer patients and 441 healthy volunteers were recruited. For the GCMS measurements, we collected samples from 65 lung cancer patients and 31 healthy volunteers. Lung cancer patients were in different disease stages and under treatment with different regimes. Mixed expiratory and indoor air samples were collected in Tedlar bags, and either analyzed directly by PTR-MS or transferred to glass vials and analyzed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). Only those measurements of compounds were considered, which showed at least a 15% higher concentration in exhaled breath than in indoor air. Compounds related to smoking behavior such as acetonitrile and benzene were not used to differentiate between lung cancer patients and healthy volunteers.
Isoprene, acetone and methanol are compounds appearing in everybody's exhaled breath. These three main compounds of exhaled breath show slightly lower concentrations in lung cancer patients as compared to healthy volunteers (p < 0.01 for isoprene and acetone, p = 0.011 for methanol; PTR-MS measurements). A comparison of the GCMS-results of 65 lung cancer patients with those of 31 healthy volunteers revealed differences in concentration for more than 50 compounds. Sensitivity for detection of lung cancer patients based on presence of (one of) 4 different compounds not arising in exhaled breath of healthy volunteers was 52% with a specificity of 100%. Using 15 (or 21) different compounds for distinction, sensitivity was 71% (80%) with a specificity of 100%. Potential marker compounds are alcohols, aldehydes, ketones and hydrocarbons.
GCMS-SPME is a relatively insensitive method. Hence compounds not appearing in exhaled breath of healthy volunteers may be below the limit of detection (LOD). PTR-MS, on the other hand, does not need preconcentration and gives much more reliable quantitative results then GCMS-SPME. The shortcoming of PTR-MS is that it cannot identify compounds with certainty. Hence SPME-GCMS and PTR-MS complement each other, each method having its particular advantages and disadvantages. Exhaled breath analysis is promising to become a future non-invasive lung cancer screening method. In order to proceed towards this goal, precise identification of compounds observed in exhaled breath of lung cancer patients is necessary. Comparison with compounds released from lung cancer cell cultures, and additional information on exhaled breath composition in other cancer forms will be important.
PMCID: PMC2761408  PMID: 19788722
3.  Genomic Analysis of the Hydrocarbon-Producing, Cellulolytic, Endophytic Fungus Ascocoryne sarcoides 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002558.
The microbial conversion of solid cellulosic biomass to liquid biofuels may provide a renewable energy source for transportation fuels. Endophytes represent a promising group of organisms, as they are a mostly untapped reservoir of metabolic diversity. They are often able to degrade cellulose, and they can produce an extraordinary diversity of metabolites. The filamentous fungal endophyte Ascocoryne sarcoides was shown to produce potential-biofuel metabolites when grown on a cellulose-based medium; however, the genetic pathways needed for this production are unknown and the lack of genetic tools makes traditional reverse genetics difficult. We present the genomic characterization of A. sarcoides and use transcriptomic and metabolomic data to describe the genes involved in cellulose degradation and to provide hypotheses for the biofuel production pathways. In total, almost 80 biosynthetic clusters were identified, including several previously found only in plants. Additionally, many transcriptionally active regions outside of genes showed condition-specific expression, offering more evidence for the role of long non-coding RNA in gene regulation. This is one of the highest quality fungal genomes and, to our knowledge, the only thoroughly annotated and transcriptionally profiled fungal endophyte genome currently available. The analyses and datasets contribute to the study of cellulose degradation and biofuel production and provide the genomic foundation for the study of a model endophyte system.
Author Summary
A renewable source of energy is a pressing global need. The biological conversion of lignocellulose to biofuels by microorganisms presents a promising avenue, but few organisms have been studied thoroughly enough to develop the genetic tools necessary for rigorous experimentation. The filamentous-fungal endophyte A. sarcoides produces metabolites when grown on a cellulose-based medium that include eight-carbon volatile organic compounds, which are potential biofuel targets. Here we use broadly applicable methods including genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics to explore the biofuel production of A. sarcoides. These data were used to assemble the genome into 16 scaffolds, to thoroughly annotate the cellulose-degradation machinery, and to make predictions for the production pathway for the eight-carbon volatiles. Extremely high expression of the gene swollenin when grown on cellulose highlights the importance of accessory proteins in addition to the enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of the polymers. Correlation of the production of the eight-carbon biofuel-like metabolites with the expression of lipoxygenase pathway genes suggests the catabolism of linoleic acid as the mechanism of eight-carbon compound production. This is the first fungal genome to be sequenced in the family Helotiaceae, and A. sarcoides was isolated as an endophyte, making this work also potentially useful in fungal systematics and the study of plant–fungus relationships.
PMCID: PMC3291568  PMID: 22396667
4.  The GC/MS Analysis of Volatile Components Extracted by Different Methods from Exocarpium Citri Grandis 
Volatile components from Exocarpium Citri Grandis (ECG) were, respectively, extracted by three methods, that is, steam distillation (SD), headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME), and solvent extraction (SE). A total of 81 compounds were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry including 77 (SD), 56 (HS-SPME), and 48 (SE) compounds, respectively. Despite of the extraction method, terpenes (39.98~57.81%) were the main volatile components of ECG, mainly germacrene-D, limonene, 2,6,8,10,14-hexadecapentaene, 2,6,11,15-tetramethyl-, (E,E,E)-, and trans-caryophyllene. Comparison was made among the three methods in terms of extraction profile and property. SD relatively gave an entire profile of volatile in ECG by long-time extraction; SE enabled the analysis of low volatility and high molecular weight compounds but lost some volatiles components; HS-SPME generated satisfactory extraction efficiency and gave similar results to those of SD at analytical level when consuming less sample amount, shorter extraction time, and simpler procedure. Although SD and SE were treated as traditionally preparative extractive techniques for volatiles in both small batches and large scale, HS-SPME coupled with GC/MS could be useful and appropriative for the rapid extraction and qualitative analysis of volatile components from medicinal plants at analytical level.
PMCID: PMC3855974  PMID: 24349825
5.  The volatile metabolome of grapevine roots: First insights into the metabolic response upon phylloxera attack 
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry  2011;49(9):1059-1063.
Many plant species respond to herbivore attack by an increased formation of volatile organic compounds. In this preliminary study we analysed the volatile metabolome of grapevine roots [Teleki 5C (Vitis berlandieri Planch. × Vitis riparia Michx.)] with the aim to gain insight into the interaction between phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch; Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae) and grapevine roots. In the first part of the study, headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled to gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC–MS) was used to detect and identify volatile metabolites in uninfested and phylloxera-infested root tips of the grapevine rootstock Teleki 5C. Based on the comparison of deconvoluted mass spectra with spectra databases as well as experimentally derived retention indices with literature values, 38 metabolites were identified, which belong to the major classes of plant volatiles including C6-compounds, terpenes (including modified terpenes), aromatic compounds, alcohols and n-alkanes. Based on these identified metabolites, changes in root volatiles were investigated and resulted in metabolite profiles caused by phylloxera infestation. Our preliminary data indicate that defence related pathways such as the mevalonate and/or alternative isopentenyl pyrophosphate-, the lipoxygenase- (LOX) as well as the phenylpropanoid pathway are affected in root galls as a response to phylloxera attack.
► 38 volatiles identified in healthy and phylloxera-infested grapevine root samples by GC–MS. ► Fourteen differentially expressed metabolites in phylloxera-infested grapevine root tips. ► Root infestation by phylloxera is associated with defence response in grapevine. ► MEV/alt. IPP-, phenylpropanoid- and LOX pathways are affected upon phylloxera attack.
PMCID: PMC3268251  PMID: 21764593
Phylloxera; Nodosity; Volatile secondary metabolites; Metabolite profiling; HS-SPME–GC–MS; Vitis berlandieri × Vitis riparia; Rootstock
6.  Volatile profile analysis and quality prediction of Longjing tea (Camellia sinensis) by HS-SPME/GC-MS 
This study aimed to analyze the volatile chemical profile of Longjing tea, and further develop a prediction model for aroma quality of Longjing tea based on potent odorants. A total of 21 Longjing samples were analyzed by headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Pearson’s linear correlation analysis and partial least square (PLS) regression were applied to investigate the relationship between sensory aroma scores and the volatile compounds. Results showed that 60 volatile compounds could be commonly detected in this famous green tea. Terpenes and esters were two major groups characterized, representing 33.89% and 15.53% of the total peak area respectively. Ten compounds were determined to contribute significantly to the perceived aroma quality of Longjing tea, especially linalool (0.701), nonanal (0.738), (Z)-3-hexenyl hexanoate (−0.785), and β-ionone (−0.763). On the basis of these 10 compounds, a model (correlation coefficient of 89.4% and cross-validated correlation coefficient of 80.4%) was constructed to predict the aroma quality of Longjing tea. Summarily, this study has provided a novel option for quality prediction of green tea based on HS-SPME/GC-MS technique.
PMCID: PMC3520451  PMID: 23225852
Partial least square (PLS) regression; Green tea; Headspace solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME); Volatile profile; Quality prediction
7.  Non-Invasive Breath Analysis of Pulmonary Nodules 
The search for non-invasive diagnostic methods of lung cancer has led to new avenues of research, including the exploration of the exhaled breath. Previous studies have shown that lung cancer can in principle be detected through exhaled breath analysis. This study evaluated the potential of exhaled breath analysis for the distinction of benign and malignant pulmonary nodules (PNs).
Breath samples were taken from 72 patients with PNs in a prospective trial. Profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were determined by (i) gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) combined with solid phase microextraction (SPME) and by (ii) a chemical nanoarray.
53 PNs were malignant and 19 were benign with similar smoking histories and co-morbidities. Nodule size (mean +/− SD) was 2.7±1.7 vs. 1.6±1.3 cm (p=0.004) respectively. Within the malignant group, 47 were NSCLC and 6 were SCLC. Thirty had early stage disease and 23 had advanced disease. GC-MS analysis identified a significantly higher concentration of 1-octene in the breath of lung cancer, and the nanoarray distinguished significantly between benign vs. malignant PNs (p<0.0001; accuracy 88±3%), between adeno- and squamous- cell carcinomas (p<0.0001; 88±3%) and between early stage and advanced disease (p<0.0001; 88±2%).
In this pilot study, breath analysis discriminated benign from malignant PNs in a high-risk cohort based on lung cancer related VOC profiles. Further, it discriminated adeno-and squamous- cell carcinoma and between early vs. advanced disease. Further studies are required to validate this non-invasive approach, using a larger cohort of patients with PNs detected by CT.
PMCID: PMC3444531  PMID: 22929969
Lung cancer; pulmonary nodules; diagnosis; breath; nanoarray
8.  Assessment of Volatile Chemical Composition of the Essential Oil of Jatropha ribifolia (Pohl) Baill by HS-SPME-GC-MS Using Different Fibers 
The chemical composition of essential oil and volatile obtained from the roots of Jatropha ribifolia (Pohl) Baill was performed in this work. The Clevenger extractor was utilized in hydrodistillation of oil and chemical composition determined by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry detector (GC-MS). The identification of compounds was confirmed by retention index (Kovats index) obtained from a series of straight chain alkanes (C7–C30) and by comparison with NIST and ADAMS library. A total of 61 compounds were identified in essential oil by GC-MS. The extraction of volatile was performed also by the use of the solid phase microextraction (SPME) with four different fibers. The essential oil extraction was extremely rapid (15 s) to avoid saturation of the fiber and the MS detector. The majority of the composition of essential oil is the terpenes: β-pinene (major compound 9.16%), β-vatirene (8.34%), α-gurjunene (6.98%), α-pinene (6.35%), camphene (4.34%), tricyclene (3.79%) and dehydro aromadendrene (3.52%) it and aldehydes and alcohols. Through the SPME it was possible to determine the nine volatile compounds not identified in oil 2,3,4-trimethyl-2-cyclopenten-1-one, α-phellandrene, 3-carene, trans-p-mentha-2,8-dienol, pinocamphone, D-verbenon, 1,3,3-trimethyl-2-(2-methyl-cyclopropyl)-cyclohexene, 2,4-diisocyanato-1-methylbenzene, and (6-hydroxymethyl-2,3-dimethylehenyl) methanol.
PMCID: PMC3859261  PMID: 24371539
9.  Detection of Plant Volatiles after Leaf Wounding and Darkening by Proton Transfer Reaction “Time-of-Flight” Mass Spectrometry (PTR-TOF) 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20419.
Proton transfer reaction-time of flight (PTR-TOF) mass spectrometry was used to improve detection of biogenic volatiles organic compounds (BVOCs) induced by leaf wounding and darkening. PTR-TOF measurements unambiguously captured the kinetic of the large emissions of green leaf volatiles (GLVs) and acetaldehyde after wounding and darkening. GLVs emission correlated with the extent of wounding, thus confirming to be an excellent indicator of mechanical damage. Transient emissions of methanol, C5 compounds and isoprene from plant species that do not emit isoprene constitutively were also detected after wounding. In the strong isoprene-emitter Populus alba, light-dependent isoprene emission was sustained and even enhanced for hours after photosynthesis inhibition due to leaf cutting. Thus isoprene emission can uncouple from photosynthesis and may occur even after cutting leaves or branches, e.g., by agricultural practices or because of abiotic and biotic stresses. This observation may have important implications for assessments of isoprene sources and budget in the atmosphere, and consequences for tropospheric chemistry.
PMCID: PMC3102719  PMID: 21637822
10.  Tracing Hidden Herbivores: Time-Resolved Non-Invasive Analysis of Belowground Volatiles by Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) 
Journal of Chemical Ecology  2012;38(6):785-794.
Root herbivores are notoriously difficult to study, as they feed hidden in the soil. However, root herbivores may be traced by analyzing specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced by damaged roots. These VOCs not only support parasitoids in the localization of their host, but also may help scientists study belowground plant-herbivore interactions. Herbivore-induced VOCs are usually analyzed by gas-chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS), but with this off-line method, the gases of interest need to be preconcentrated, and destructive sampling is required to assess the level of damage to the roots. In contrast to this, proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) is a very sensitive on-line, non-invasive method. PTR-MS already has been successfully applied to analyze VOCs produced by aboveground (infested) plant parts. In this review, we provide a brief overview of PTR-MS and illustrate how this technology can be applied to detect specific root-herbivore induced VOCs from Brassica plants. We also specify the advantages and disadvantages of PTR-MS analyses and new technological developments to overcome their limitations.
PMCID: PMC3375075  PMID: 22592334
Chemical ecology; Root herbivory; Trace gas analysis; Induced indirect defense; Mass spectrometry; Volatile organic compound (VOC)
11.  A Multi-species Bait for Chagas Disease Vectors 
Triatomine bugs are the insect vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease. These insects are known to aggregate inside shelters during daylight hours and it has been demonstrated that within shelters, the aggregation is induced by volatiles emitted from bug feces. These signals promote inter-species aggregation among most species studied, but the chemical composition is unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the present work, feces from larvae of the three species were obtained and volatile compounds were identified by solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME-GC-MS). We identified five compounds, all present in feces of all of the three species: Triatoma infestans, Panstrongylus megistus and Triatoma brasiliensis. These substances were tested for attractivity and ability to recruit insects into shelters. Behaviorally active doses of the five substances were obtained for all three triatomine species. The bugs were significantly attracted to shelters baited with blends of 160 ng or 1.6 µg of each substance.
Common compounds were found in the feces of vectors of Chagas disease that actively recruited insects into shelters, which suggests that this blend of compounds could be used for the development of baits for early detection of reinfestation with triatomine bugs.
Author Summary
Chagas disease is a parasitic infection affecting approximately 12 million people, and is considered to be one of the most severe burdens for public health in Latin America. Control of the disease is based on attempted elimination of domestic populations of triatomine bugs, the insects transmitting the disease to humans, by means of insecticide spraying. Currently, vigilance programs monitoring triatomine reinfestation processes in houses are performed by manual search for bugs. Effective and sustainable new methods allowing continuous monitoring of domestic triatomine populations are required. Based on the fact that the insects hide in dark refuges that are marked by volatile signals emitted in their feces, we screened the feces of three species for volatile compounds common to these prominent vectors. The potential for these odors to promote triatomine aggregation was evaluated and we present evidence that a synthetic blend of these substances is capable of recruiting bugs into shelters, mimicking the natural pheromone. This blend may be used to develop a bait to monitor triatomine reinfestation processes in a similar manner as is used commonly for the monitoring of agricultural pests.
PMCID: PMC3937276  PMID: 24587457
12.  Mouse Urinary Biomarkers Provide Signatures of Maturation, Diet, Stress Level, and Diurnal Rhythm 
Chemical Senses  2010;35(6):459-471.
Body fluids such as urine potentially contain a wealth of information pertaining to age, sex, social and reproductive status, physiologic state, and genotype of the donor. To explore whether urine could encode information regarding environment, physiology, and development, we compared the volatile compositions of mouse urine using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS). Specifically, we identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in individual urine samples taken from inbred C57BL/6J-H-2b mice under several experimental conditions—maturation state, diet, stress, and diurnal rhythms, designed to mimic natural variations. Approximately 1000 peaks (i.e., variables) were identified per comparison and of these many were identified as potential differential biomarkers. Consistent with previous findings, we found groups of compounds that vary significantly and consistently rather than a single unique compound to provide a robust signature. We identified over 49 new predictive compounds, in addition to identifying several published compounds, for maturation state, diet, stress, and time-of-day. We found a considerable degree of overlap in the chemicals identified as (potential) biomarkers for each comparison. Chemometric methods indicate that the strong group-related patterns in VOCs provide sufficient information to identify several parameters of natural variations in this strain of mice including their maturation state, stress level, and diet.
PMCID: PMC2899844  PMID: 20418335
age; diet; solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; stress; urine; volatile organic compound
13.  Eddy covariance VOC emission and deposition fluxes above grassland using PTR-TOF 
Atmospheric chemistry and physics (Print)  2011;11(2):10.5194/acp-11-611-2011.
Eddy covariance (EC) is the preferable technique for flux measurements since it is the only direct flux determination method. It requires a continuum of high time resolution measurements (e.g. 5-20 Hz). For volatile organic compounds (VOC) soft ionization via proton transfer reaction has proven to be a quantitative method for real time mass spectrometry; here we use a proton transfer reaction time of flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF) for 10 Hz EC measurements of full mass spectra up to m/z 315. The mass resolution of the PTR-TOF enabled the identification of chemical formulas and separation of oxygenated and hydrocarbon species exhibiting the same nominal mass. We determined 481 ion mass peaks from ambient air concentration above a managed, temperate mountain grassland in Neustift, Stubai Valley, Austria. During harvesting we found significant fluxes of 18 compounds distributed over 43 ions, including protonated parent compounds, as well as their isotopes and fragments and VOC-H+ – water clusters. The dominant BVOC fluxes were methanol, acetaldehyde, ethanol, hexenal and other C6 leaf wound compounds, acetone, acetic acid, monoterpenes and sequiterpenes.
The smallest reliable fluxes we determined were less than 0.1 nmol m−2 s−1, as in the case of sesquiterpene emissions from freshly cut grass. Terpenoids, including mono- and sesquiterpenes, were also deposited to the grassland before and after the harvesting. During cutting, total VOC emission fluxes up to 200 nmolC m−2 s−1 were measured. Methanol emissions accounted for half of the emissions of oxygenated VOCs and a third of the carbon of all measured VOC emissions during harvesting.
PMCID: PMC3859318  PMID: 24348524
14.  Real-time analysis of sulfur-containing volatiles in Brassica plants infested with root-feeding Delia radicum larvae using proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls021.
Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) analyses revealed that damaged Brassica roots emit sulfur-containing volatiles. B. nigra, B. juncea and B. napus emitted isothiocyanate markers, whereas B. rapa, B. oleracea, and B. carinata emitted methanethiol. These compounds can be used as markers for root damage by insect larvae and other below-ground herbivores.
Background and aims
Plants damaged by herbivores emit a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Here we used proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) as a sensitive detection method for online analysis of herbivore-induced VOCs. Previously, it was found that Brassica nigra plants emit several sulfur-containing VOCs when attacked by cabbage root fly (Delia radicum) larvae with m/z 60 as a marker for the formation of allylisothiocyanate from the glucosinolate sinigrin. We tested the hypothesis that m/z 60 emission occurs only in plants with sinigrin in their roots. Additionally, we tested the hypothesis that methanethiol, dimethylsulfide and dimethyldisulfide are only emitted after larval infestation.
Proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry was used to track sulfur-containing VOCs from six different species of Brassica over time. The roots were either artificially damaged or infested with cabbage root fly larvae. Glucosinolate profiles of the roots were analysed using high-pressure liquid chromatography and compared with VOC emissions.
Principal results
Brassica nigra, B. juncea and B. napus primarily emitted m/z 60 directly after artificial damage or root fly infestation. Sulfide and methanethiol emissions from B. nigra and B. juncea also increased after larval damage but much later (6–12 h after damage). Brassica rapa, B. oleracea and B. carinata principally emitted methanethiol after artificial and after larval damage. Brassica oleracea and B. carinata showed some increase in m/z 60 emission after larval damage. Comparison with root glucosinolate profiles revealed that sinigrin cannot be the only precursor for m/z 60.
The principal compound emitted after root damage is determined by the plant species, and not by damage type or root glucosinolate composition. Once determined, the principal compounds may be used as markers for identifying damaged or infested plants. Further analyses of plant enzymes involved in the breakdown of sulfur compounds is needed to reveal the origin of sulfur-containing VOCs from plants.
PMCID: PMC3424660  PMID: 22916330
15.  Metabolic networking in Brunfelsia calycina petals after flower opening 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(5):1393-1403.
Brunfelsia calycina flowers change colour from purple to white due to anthocyanin degradation, parallel to an increase in fragrance and petal size. Here it was tested whether the production of the fragrant benzenoids is dependent on induction of the shikimate pathway, or if they are formed from the anthocyanin degradation products. An extensive characterization of the events taking place in Brunfelsia flowers is presented. Anthocyanin characterization was performed using ultraperfomance liquid chromatography–quadrupole time of flight–tandem mass specrometry (UPLC-QTOF-MS/MS). Volatiles emitted were identified by headspace solid phase microextraction–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS). Accumulated proteins were identified by 2D gel electrophoresis. Transcription profiles were characterized by cross-species hybridization of Brunfelsia cDNAs to potato cDNA microarrays. Identification of accumulated metabolites was performed by UPLC-QTOF-MS non-targeted metabolite analysis. The results include characterization of the nine main anthocyanins in Brunfelsia flowers. In addition, 146 up-regulated genes, 19 volatiles, seven proteins, and 17 metabolites that increased during anthocyanin degradation were identified. A multilevel analysis suggests induction of the shikimate pathway. This pathway is the most probable source of the phenolic acids, which in turn are precursors of both the benzenoid and lignin production pathways. The knowledge obtained is valuable for future studies on degradation of anthocyanins, formation of volatiles, and the network of secondary metabolism in Brunfelsia and related species.
PMCID: PMC2837258  PMID: 20202996
Anthocyanin; benzenoid; Brunfelsia; lignin; secondary metabolism
16.  A comparative qualitative study of the profile of volatile organic compounds associated with Salmonella contamination of packaged aged and fresh beef by HS-SPME/GC-MS 
Vacuum packaged beef strip-loins (fresh and aged) were repackaged on polystyrene trays and over-wrapped with food grade cling film for the storage study. Several volatile compounds such as 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2,3-butanedione, 2-butanone, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, acetic acid and a few hydrocarbons were detected in the headspace of these tray packaged fresh and aged beef strip loins both in the control and Salmonella typhimurium inoculated samples, in varying concentrations. These compounds were identified using manual headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) in combination with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) over a storage period of 4 days and samples were incubated at 20°C. No naturally occurring Salmonella was present in the control samples. Hexanal (r = 0.99), carbon dioxide (r = 0.98), 3-hydroxy-2-butanone (r = 0.93) and 2-methyl propane (r = 0.95) showed positive correlations with Salmonella population for fresh beef samples. In aged beef samples, 3-methyl-1-butanol (r = 0.99), 3-hydroxy-2-butanone (r = 0.98), carbon dioxide (r = 0.98) and acetic acid (r = 0.86) showed similar trends. In fresh beef samples, F values were significant at p < 0.05 for 3-hydroxy-2-butanone and for carbon dioxide with storage time for fresh beef samples; they were significant for 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, acetic acid and carbon dioxide for aged beef samples.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13197-010-0138-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3551090  PMID: 23572711
Over wrapped beef; Aged, fresh, Salmonella; HS-SPME/GC-MS; Volatiles
17.  Fast Direct Injection Mass-Spectrometric Characterization of Stimuli for Insect Electrophysiology by Proton Transfer Reaction-Time of Flight Mass-Spectrometry (PTR-ToF-MS) 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2012;12(4):4091-4104.
Electrophysiological techniques are used in insect neuroscience to measure the response of olfactory neurons to volatile odour stimuli. Widely used systems to deliver an olfactory stimulus to a test insect include airstream guided flow through glass cartridges loaded with a given volatile compound on a sorbent support. Precise measurement of the quantity of compound reaching the sensory organ of the test organism is an urgent task in insect electrophysiology. In this study we evaluated the performances of the recent realised proton transfer reaction-time of flight mass-spectrometry (PTR-ToF-MS) as a fast and selective gas sensor. In particular, we characterised the gas emission from cartridges loaded with a set of volatile compounds belonging to different chemical classes and commonly used in electrophysiological experiments. PTR-ToF-MS allowed a fast monitoring of all investigated compounds with sufficient sensitivity and time resolution. The detection and the quantification of air contaminants and solvent or synthetic standards impurities allowed a precise quantification of the stimulus exiting the cartridge. The outcome of this study was twofold: on one hand we showed that PTR-ToF-MS allows monitoring fast processes with high sensitivity by real time detection of a broad number of compounds; on the other hand we provided a tool to solve an important issue in insect electrophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3355401  PMID: 22666020
electrophysiological techniques; olfactory stimulus; proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry; real time monitoring; volatile compounds
18.  Preparation of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes/Hydroxyl-Terminated Silicone Oil Fiber and Its Application to Analysis of Crude Oils 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:758043.
A simple and efficient method to analyze the volatile and semivolatile organic compounds in crude oils has been developed based on direct immersion solid-phase microextraction coupled to comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DI-SPME-GC × GC/TOFMS). A novel fiber, multiwalled carbon nanotubes/hydroxyl-terminated silicone oil (MWNTs-TSO-OH), was prepared by sol-gel technology. Using standard solutions, the extraction conditions were optimized such as extraction mode, extraction temperature, extraction time, and salts effect. With the optimized conditions, a real crude oil sample was extracted and then analyzed in detail. It shows that the proposed method is very effective in simultaneously analyzing the normal and branched alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, and biomarkers of crude oil such as steranes and terpanes. Furthermore, the method showed good linearity (r > 0.999), precision (RSD < 8%), and detection limits ranging from 0.2 to 1.6 ng/L.
PMCID: PMC3919046  PMID: 24578659
19.  On-Line Monitoring of Microbial Volatile Metabolites by Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry▿  
A method for analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from microbial cultures was established using proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry (PTR-MS). A newly developed sampling system was coupled to a PTR-MS instrument to allow on-line monitoring of VOCs in the dynamic headspaces of microbial cultures. The novel PTR-MS method was evaluated for four reference organisms: Escherichia coli, Shigella flexneri, Salmonella enterica, and Candida tropicalis. Headspace VOCs in sampling bottles containing actively growing cultures and uninoculated culture medium controls were sequentially analyzed by PTR-MS. Characteristic marker ions were found for certain microbial cultures: C. tropicalis could be identified by several unique markers compared with the other three organisms, and E. coli and S. enterica were distinguishable from each other and from S. flexneri by specific marker ions, demonstrating the potential of this method to differentiate between even closely related microorganisms. Although the temporal profiles of some VOCs were similar to the growth dynamics of the microbial cultures, most VOCs showed a different temporal profile, characterized by constant or decreasing VOC levels or by single or multiple peaks over 24 h of incubation. These findings strongly indicate that the temporal evolution of VOC emissions during growth must be considered if characterization or differentiation based on microbial VOC emissions is attempted. Our study may help to establish the analysis of VOCs by on-line PTR-MS as a routine method in microbiology and as a tool for monitoring environmental and biotechnological processes.
PMCID: PMC2292582  PMID: 18245241
20.  Differential Volatile Signatures from Skin, Naevi and Melanoma: A Novel Approach to Detect a Pathological Process 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13813.
Early detection of melanoma is of great importance to reduce mortality. Discovering new melanoma biomarkers would improve early detection and diagnosis. Here, we present a novel approach to detect volatile compounds from skin.
Methods and Findings
We used Head Space Solid Phase Micro-Extraction (HS-SPME) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to identify volatile signatures from melanoma, naevi and skin samples. We hypothesized that the metabolic state of tissue alters the profile of volatile compounds. Volatiles released from fresh biopsy tissue of melanoma and benign naevus were compared based on their difference in frequency distribution and their expression level. We also analyzed volatile profiles from frozen tissue, including skin and melanoma.
Three volatiles, 4-methyl decane, dodecane and undecane were preferentially expressed in both fresh and frozen melanoma, indicating that they are candidate biomarkers. Twelve candidate biomarkers evaluated by fuzzy logic analysis of frozen samples distinguished melanoma from skin with 89% sensitivity and 90% specificity. Our results demonstrate proof-of-principle that there is differential expression of volatiles in melanoma. Our volatile metabolomic approach will lead to a better understanding of melanoma and can enable development of new diagnostic and treatment strategies based on altered metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2973952  PMID: 21079799
21.  Volatile profiling reveals intracellular metabolic changes in Aspergillus parasiticus: veA regulates branched chain amino acid and ethanol metabolism 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:33.
Filamentous fungi in the genus Aspergillus produce a variety of natural products, including aflatoxin, the most potent naturally occurring carcinogen known. Aflatoxin biosynthesis, one of the most highly characterized secondary metabolic pathways, offers a model system to study secondary metabolism in eukaryotes. To control or customize biosynthesis of natural products we must understand how secondary metabolism integrates into the overall cellular metabolic network. By applying a metabolomics approach we analyzed volatile compounds synthesized by Aspergillus parasiticus in an attempt to define the association of secondary metabolism with other metabolic and cellular processes.
Volatile compounds were examined using solid phase microextraction - gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In the wild type strain Aspergillus parasiticus SU-1, the largest group of volatiles included compounds derived from catabolism of branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine); we also identified alcohols, esters, aldehydes, and lipid-derived volatiles. The number and quantity of the volatiles produced depended on media composition, time of incubation, and light-dark status. A block in aflatoxin biosynthesis or disruption of the global regulator veA affected the volatile profile. In addition to its multiple functions in secondary metabolism and development, VeA negatively regulated catabolism of branched chain amino acids and synthesis of ethanol at the transcriptional level thus playing a role in controlling carbon flow within the cell. Finally, we demonstrated that volatiles generated by a veA disruption mutant are part of the complex regulatory machinery that mediates the effects of VeA on asexual conidiation and sclerotia formation.
1) Volatile profiling provides a rapid, effective, and powerful approach to identify changes in intracellular metabolic networks in filamentous fungi. 2) VeA coordinates the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites with catabolism of branched chain amino acids, alcohol biosynthesis, and β-oxidation of fatty acids. 3) Intracellular chemical development in A. parasiticus is linked to morphological development. 4) Understanding carbon flow through secondary metabolic pathways and catabolism of branched chain amino acids is essential for controlling and customizing production of natural products.
PMCID: PMC2939540  PMID: 20735852
22.  PTR-MS in Italy: A Multipurpose Sensor with Applications in Environmental, Agri-Food and Health Science 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2013;13(9):11923-11955.
Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) has evolved in the last decade as a fast and high sensitivity sensor for the real-time monitoring of volatile compounds. Its applications range from environmental sciences to medical sciences, from food technology to bioprocess monitoring. Italian scientists and institutions participated from the very beginning in fundamental and applied research aiming at exploiting the potentialities of this technique and providing relevant methodological advances and new fundamental indications. In this review we describe this activity on the basis of the available literature. The Italian scientific community has been active mostly in food science and technology, plant physiology and environmental studies and also pioneered the applications of the recently released PTR-ToF-MS (Proton Transfer Reaction-Time of Flight-Mass Spectrometry) in food science and in plant physiology. In the very last years new results related to bioprocess monitoring and health science have been published as well. PTR-MS data analysis, particularly in the case of the ToF based version, and the application of advanced chemometrics and data mining are also aspects characterising the activity of the Italian community.
PMCID: PMC3821335  PMID: 24021966
PTR-MS; Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry; PTR-ToF-MS; time of flight; Italy
23.  Multi-capillary-column proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry☆ 
Journal of Chromatography. a  2013;1316(100):112-118.
•The coupling of PTR-TOFMS to a fast GC system using a multi-capillary column was successfully implemented.•The built set-up enables the separation of structural isomers within seconds and does not hamper the normal operation of the PTR-TOFMS.•The MCC setup is suitable to be installed inside the instrument and the overall retention time for a complete spectrum is only a few minutes.•Besides, MCC-PTR-TOF allows a more accurate identification of compounds in complex mixtures.
Proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass-spectrometry (PTR-TOFMS) exhibits high selectivity with a resolution of around 5000 m/Δm. While isobars can be separated with this resolution, discrimination of isomeric compounds is usually not possible. The coupling of a multi-capillary column (MCC) with a PTR-TOFMS overcomes these problems as demonstrated in this paper for the ketone isomers 3-heptanone and 2-methyl-3-hexanone and for different aldehydes. Moreover, fragmentation of compounds can be studied in detail which might even improve the identification. LODs for compounds tested are in the range of low ppbv and peak positions of the respective separated substances show good repeatability (RSD of the peak positions <3.2%). Due to its special characteristics, such as isothermal operation, compact size, the MCC setup is suitable to be installed inside the instrument and the overall retention time for a complete spectrum is only a few minutes: this allows near real-time measurements in the optional MCC mode. In contrast to other methods that yield additional separation, such as the use of pre-cursor ions other than H3O+, this method yields additional information without increasing complexity.
PMCID: PMC3810645  PMID: 24119758
Proton transfer reaction time of flight mass spectrometry; PTR-TOFMS; Multi capillary column; Gas chromatographic separation; Volatile organic compounds; VOCs
24.  Non-Destructive Evaluation of Historical Paper Based on pH Estimation from VOC Emissions 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2007;7(12):3136-3145.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from materials during degradation can be a valuable source of information. In this work, the emissions of furfural and acetic acid from cellulose were studied using solid-phase micro-extraction (SPME) in combination with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Two sampling techniques were employed: static headspace sampling using SPME for 1 h at 40 °C after 18-h sample preparation at 80 °C in a closed glass vial, and contact SPME in a stack of paper (or a book). While a number of VOCs are emitted from paper under conditions of natural or accelerated degradation, two compounds were confirmed to be of particular diagnostic value: acetic acid and furfural. The emissions of furfural are shown to correlate with pH of the cellulosic environment. Since pH is one of the most important parameters regarding durability of this material, the developed method could be used for non-destructive evaluation of historical paper.
PMCID: PMC3841885
gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; SPME; pH; volatile organic compounds; paper; analysis
25.  GC–MS and GC–NPD Determination of Formaldehyde Dimethylhydrazone in Water Using SPME 
Chromatographia  2011;73(1-2):123-128.
Formaldehyde dimethylhydrazone (FADMH) is one of the important transformation products of residual rocket fuel 1,1-dimethylhydrazine (1,1-DMH). Thus, recent studies show that FADMH toxicity is comparable to that of undecomposed 1,1-DMH. In this study, a new method for quantification of FADMH in water based on solid phase microextraction (SPME) in combination with gas chromatography (GC) with mass spectrometric (MS) and nitrogen-phosphorus detection (NPD) is presented. Effects of SPME fiber coating type, extraction and desorption temperatures, extraction time, and pH on analyte recovery were studied. The optimized method used 65 micron polydimethylsiloxane/divinylbenzene fiber coating for 1 min headspace extractions at 30 °C. Preferred pH and desorption temperature from the SPME fiber are >8.5 and 200 °C, respectively. Detection limits were estimated to be 1.5 and 0.5 μg L−1 for MS and NPD, respectively. The method was applied to laboratory-scale experiments to quantify FADMH. Results indicate applicability for in situ sampling and analysis and possible first-time detection of free FADMH in water.
PMCID: PMC3030744  PMID: 21423319
Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; Solid phase microextraction; Environmental analysis; Rocket fuel; Formaldehyde dimethylhydrazone

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