Occurrence of Ergot and Ergot Alkaloids in Western Canadian Wheat and Other Cereals

A new method was developed to analyze 10 ergot alkaloids in cereal grains. Analytes included both “ine” and “inine” type ergot alkaloids. Validation of the method showed it performed with good accuracy and precision and that minor enhancement due to matrix effects was present during LC-MS/MS analysis, but was mitigated by use of an internal standard. The method was used to survey durum and wheat harvested in 2011, a year in which ergot infection was particularly widespread in western Canada. A strong linear relationship between the concentration of ergot alkaloids and the presence of ergot sclerotia was observed. In addition, shipments of cereals from 2010–2012 were also monitored for ergot alkaloids. Concentrations of total ergot alkaloids in shipments were lower than observed in harvest samples, and averaged from 0.065 mg/kg in barley to 1.14 mg/kg in rye. In shipments, the concentration of ergot alkaloids was significantly lower in wheat of higher grades.