Determination of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Propolis with Liquid Chromatography Coupled to Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Molecules. 2020 Dec 11;25(24):5870. doi: 10.3390/molecules25245870.


In this study, a method was developed for the determination of five neonicotinoid pesticides (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in propolis. Two sample preparation methods were tested: solid-phase extraction and the quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) method. The identities of analytes were confirmed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in the selected reaction monitoring mode. Solid-phase extraction resulted in cleaner extracts; therefore, the SPE-LC-MS/MS method was validated according to the SANTE protocol in triplicate at two spiking levels (10 ng/g and 50 ng/g). The average recoveries of analytes ranged from 61% to 101%, except for clothianidin (10-20%). The LOD ranged from 0.2 ng/g to 4.4 ng/g, whereas the LOQ was in the range of 0.8 ng/g-14.7 ng/g. In order to compensate for the matrix effect, matrix-matched calibration was used. Good accuracy (relative error: 1.9-10.4%) and good linearity (R2 > 0.991) were obtained for all compounds. The optimised method was applied to 30 samples: 18 raw propolis and 12 ethanol tinctures. Acetamiprid, imidacloprid, and thiacloprid were detectable in seven samples but were still below the LOQ. This study is the first to report the determination of several neonicotinoid residues in propolis.

Keywords: LC-MS/MS; QuEChERS; SPE; neonicotinoids; propolis.

MeSH terms

  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Drug Contamination
  • Guanidines / analysis
  • Insecticides
  • Limit of Detection
  • Neonicotinoids / analysis*
  • Nitro Compounds / analysis
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Propolis / metabolism*
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Thiamethoxam / analysis
  • Thiazines / analysis
  • Thiazoles / analysis


  • Guanidines
  • Insecticides
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Thiazines
  • Thiazoles
  • clothianidin
  • imidacloprid
  • acetamiprid
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Propolis
  • thiacloprid