Pterodon pubescens Oil: Characterisation, Certification of Origin and Quality Control via Mass Spectrometry Fingerprinting Analysis


Correspondence to: J. M. Riveros, Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo – USP, Av. Lineu Prestes 748, 05508-900, São Paulo, Brazil. Email:



The oil obtained from Pterodon pubescens (Leguminosae) seeds are known to display anti-cancer, anti-dermatogenic and anti-nociceptive activitiy. Phytochemical studies have demonstrated that its main constituents are diterpenoids with voucapan skeletons. Considering the potential biological activities of the oil, rapid and efficient methods for assessing its quality would facilitate certification and quality control.


To develop a direct mass spectrometric fingerprinting method for the P. pubescens seed oil that would focus on the major diterpenoids constituents, enabling quality control, origin certification and recognition of marker species in commercially available products.


Two techniques were used: (i) direct infusion electrospray ionisation (ESI) mass spectrometry after solvent extraction and dilution and (ii) ambient desorption/ionisation via easy ambient sonic-spray ionisation, EASI(+)–MS, performed directly on the seed surface or at a paper surface imprinted with the oil.


From a combination of ESI–MS, HRESI–MS and ESI–MS/MS data, 12 diterpenes were characterised, and typical profiles were obtained for the oil extract or the crude oil via both ESI–MS and EASI–MS. These techniques require no or very simple sample preparation protocols and the whole analytical processes with spectra acquisition take just a few minutes.


Both techniques, but particularly EASI–MS, provide simple, fast and efficient MS fingerprinting methodologies to characterise the P. pubescens oil with typical (di)terpene profiles being applicable to quality control and certification of authenticity and origin. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.