A method was developed for analysing the biosynthetic rate of the cytokinin class of plant hormones. Transgenic, cytokinin-overproducing Arabidopsis thaliana plants were incubated in liquid culture media enriched with 30% deuterium oxide, and incorporation into the different parts of the cytokinin molecule was analysed by capillary liquid chromatography/frit-fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry after precolumn propionylation. The sugar moieties of the cytokinins generally showed a high and independent incorporation, so the analysis in this study focused on the cytokinin base moieties. It was observed that during a 24 h incubation period almost all labelling was incorporated into the side-chain, rather than the adenine moiety. The incorporation dynamics of isopentenyladenosine-5'-monophosphate, zeatinriboside-5'-monophosphate (ZRMP) and zeatin-9-glucoside were investigated through analysis of the cytokinin base fragments in high-resolution selective ion monitoring mode. Using a fractional synthetic rate approach, the biosynthetic rate of ZRMP was determined to be 18 ng h(-1) g(-1) fresh weight, giving a turnover time of 25 h. A method for the mass isotopomer abundance analysis of the cytokinins in the zeatin family, based on selective reaction monitoring, was also developed to gain further sensitivity. Use of this technique showed that there was a higher level of enrichment in zeatin nucleotide than in the corresponding nucleoside, in agreement with the hypothesis that cytokinin nucleotides are primary products in this pathway.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.