Direct profiling and imaging of plant metabolites in intact tissues by using colloidal graphite-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry


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Laser desorption/ionization (LDI)-based imaging mass spectrometry (MS) has been applied to several biological systems to obtain information about both the identities of the major chemical species and their localization. Colloidal graphite-assisted LDI (GALDI) MS imaging was introduced for the imaging of small molecules such as phospholipids, cerebrosides, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and other secondary metabolites with high spatial homogeneity due to finely dispersed particles. Mass profiles and images of Arabidopsis thaliana have been recorded directly from various plant surfaces and cross sections. The main targeted metabolites were flavonoids and cuticular waxes, both of which are important in many aspects of functional genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The mass spectral profiles revealed tissue-specific accumulation of flavonoids in flowers and petals. In addition, many other location-specific ions were observed. The location and the degree of light-induced accumulation of flavonoids in stem sections were successfully probed by GALDI MS.