Highly sensitive and high-throughput analysis of plant hormones using MS-probe modification and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry: an application for hormone profiling in Oryza sativa

Plant Cell Physiol. 2009 Jul;50(7):1201-14. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcp057. Epub 2009 Apr 15.


We have developed a highly sensitive and high-throughput method for the simultaneous analysis of 43 molecular species of cytokinins, auxins, ABA and gibberellins. This method consists of an automatic liquid handling system for solid phase extraction and ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) coupled with a tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer (qMS/MS) equipped with an electrospray interface (ESI; UPLC-ESI-qMS/MS). In order to improve the detection limit of negatively charged compounds, such as gibberellins, we chemically derivatized fractions containing auxin, ABA and gibberellins with bromocholine that has a quaternary ammonium functional group. This modification, that we call 'MS-probe', makes these hormone derivatives have a positive ion charge and permits all compounds to be measured in the positive ion mode with UPLC-ESI-qMS/MS in a single run. Consequently, quantification limits of gibberellins increased up to 50-fold. Our current method needs <100 mg (FW) of plant tissues to determine phytohormone profiles and enables us to analyze >180 plant samples simultaneously. Application of this method to plant hormone profiling enabled us to draw organ distribution maps of hormone species in rice and also to identify interactions among the four major hormones in the rice gibberellin signaling mutants, gid1-3, gid2-1 and slr1. Combining the results of hormone profiling data with transcriptome data in the gibberellin signaling mutants allows us to analyze relationships between changes in gene expression and hormone metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cytokinins / analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gibberellins / analysis
  • Indoleacetic Acids / analysis
  • Oryza / chemistry*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Cytokinins
  • Gibberellins
  • Indoleacetic Acids
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Abscisic Acid