Exact masses and chemical formulas of individual Suwannee River fulvic acids from ultrahigh resolution electrospray ionization Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectra

Anal Chem. 2003 Mar 15;75(6):1275-84. doi: 10.1021/ac026106p.


Molecular formulas have been assigned for 4626 individual Suwannee River fulvic acids based on accurate mass measurements from ions generated by electrospray ionization and observed by ultrahigh-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICR MS). Formula assignments were possible because of the mass accuracy of FTICR MS at high field (9.4 T) and the regular mass spacing patterns found in fulvic acid mixtures. Sorting the 4626 individually observed ions according to Kendrick mass defect and nominal mass series (z* score) revealed that all could be assigned to 1 of 266 distinct homologous series that differ in oxygen content and double bond equivalence. Tandem mass spectrometry based on infrared multiphoton dissociation identified labile fragments of fulvic acid molecules, whose chemical formulas led to plausible structures consistent with degraded lignin as a source of Suwannee River fulvic acids.