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Liquid chromatography high‐resolution mass spectrometry for fatty acid profiling

The Plant Journal
December 2, 2014

Quantification of fatty acids has been crucial to elucidate lipid biosynthesis pathways in plants. To date, fatty acid identification and quantification has relied mainly on gas chromatography (GC) coupled to flame ionization detection (FID) or mass spectrometry (MS), which requires the derivatization of samples and the use of chemical standards for annotation. Here we present an alternative method based on a simple procedure for the hydrolysis of lipids, so that fatty acids can be quantified by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC‐MS) analysis. Proper peak annotation of the fatty acids in the LC‐MS‐based methods has been achieved by LC‐MS measurements of authentic standard compounds and elemental formula annotation supported by 13C isotope‐labeled Arabidopsis. As a proof of concept, we have compared the analysis by LC‐MS and GC‐FID of two previously characterized Arabidopsis thaliana knock‐out mutants for FAD6 and FAD7 desaturase genes. These results are discussed in light of lipidomic profiles obtained from the same samples. In addition, we performed untargeted LC‐MS analysis to determine the fatty acid content of two diatom species. Our results indicate that both LC‐MS and GC‐FID analyses are comparable, but that because of higher sensitivity and selectivity the LC‐MS‐based method allows for a broader coverage and determination of novel fatty acids.