A Comprehensive Targeted Metabolomics Assay for Crop Plant Sample Analysis

Metabolites. 2021 May 11;11(5):303. doi: 10.3390/metabo11050303.


Metabolomics plays an important role in various fields from health to agriculture. However, the comprehensive quantitative metabolomic analysis of plants and plant metabolites has not been widely performed. Liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based plant metabolomics offers the sensitivity and breadth of coverage for both phenotyping and disease diagnosis of plants. Here, we report a high-coverage and quantitative MS-based assay for plant metabolite analysis. The assay detects and quantifies 206 primary and secondary plant metabolites, including many key plant hormones. In total, it measures 28 amino acids and derivatives, 27 organic acids, 20 biogenic amines and derivatives, 40 acylcarnitines, 90 phospholipids and C-6 sugars. All the analysis methods in this assay are based on LC-MS/MS techniques using both positive and negative-mode multiple reaction monitoring (MRM). The recovery rates of spiked plant samples at three different concentration levels (low, medium and high) ranged from 80% to 120%, with satisfactory precision values of less than 20%. This targeted plant metabolomic assay has been successfully applied to the analysis of large numbers of pine and spruce needle samples, canola root samples, as well as cannabis samples. Moreover, the assay was specifically developed in a 96-well plate format, which enables automated, high-throughput sample analysis. This assay has already been used to analyze over 1500 crop plant samples in less than two months.

Keywords: LC-MS/MS; cannabis buds; canola roots; conifer needles; crop plant; plant metabolomics.