• Fish and milk FAME;
  • High-resolution separation;
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids;
  • Positional and geometric FAME isomers;
  • Switchable MDGC

Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiling in complex fish oil and milk fat samples was studied using integrated comprehensive 2D GC (GC × GC) and multidimensional GC (MDGC). Using GC × GC, FAME compounds – cis- and trans-isomers, and essential fatty acid isomers – ranging from C18 to C22 in fish oil and C18 in milk fat were clearly displayed in contour plot format according to structural properties and patterns, further identified based on authentic standards. Incompletely resolved regions were subjected to MDGC, with Cn (n = 18, 20) zones transferred to a 2D column. Elution behavior of C18 FAME on various 2D column phases (ionic liquids IL111, IL100, IL76, and modified PEG) was evaluated. Individual isolated Cn zones demonstrated about four-fold increased peak capacities. The IL100 provided superior separation, good peak shape, and utilization of elution space. For milk fat-derived FAME, the 2D chromatogram revealed at least three peaks corresponding to C18:1, more than six peaks for cis/trans-C18:2 isomers, and two peaks for C18:3. More than 17 peaks were obtained for the C20 region of fish oil-derived FAMEs using MDGC, compared with ten peaks using GC × GC. The MDGC strategy is useful for improved FAME isomer separation and confirmation.