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Matrix-Free UV-Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry as a Versatile Approach for Accelerating Dereplication Studies on Lichens

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journal contribution
posted on 20.10.2015 by Pierre Le Pogam, Andreas Schinkovitz, Béatrice Legouin, Anne-Cécile Le Lamer, Joël Boustie, Pascal Richomme
The present study examined the suitability of laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LDI-MS) for the rapid chemical fingerprinting of lichen extracts. Lichens are known to produce a wide array of secondary metabolites. Most of these compounds are unique to the symbiotic condition but some can be found in many species. Therefore, dereplication, that is, the rapid identification of known compounds within a complex mixture is crucial in the search for novel natural products. Over the past decade, significant advances were made in analytical techniques and profiling methods specifically adapted to crude lichen extracts, but LDI-MS has never been applied in this context. However, most classes of lichen metabolites have UV chromophores, which are quite similar to commercial matrix molecules used in matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI). It is consequently postulated that these molecules could be directly detectable by matrix-free LDI-MS. The present study evaluated the versatility of this technique by investigating the LDI properties of a vast array of single lichen metabolites as well as lichen extracts of known chemical composition. Results from the LDI experiments were compared with those obtained by direct ESI-MS detection as well as LC-ESI-MS. It was shown that LDI ionization leads to strong molecular ion formation with little fragmentation, thus, facilitating straightforward spectra interpretation and representing a valuable alternative to time-consuming LC-MS analysis.