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Deciphering Dissolved Organic Matter: Ionization, Dopant, and Fragmentation Insights via Fourier Transform-Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry

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journal contribution
posted on 19.11.2020, 19:33 by Martin R. Kurek, Brett A. Poulin, Amy M. McKenna, Robert G. M. Spencer
Fourier transform-ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) has been increasingly employed to characterize dissolved organic matter (DOM) across a range of aquatic environments highlighting the role of DOM in global carbon cycling. DOM analysis commonly utilizes electrospray ionization (ESI), while some have implemented other techniques, including dopant-assisted atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI). We compared various extracted DOM compositions analyzed by negative ESI and positive APPI doped with both toluene and tetrahydrofuran (THF), including a fragmentation study of THF-doped riverine DOM using infrared multiple photon dissociation (IRMPD). DOM compositions followed the same trends in ESI and dopant-assisted APPI with the latter presenting saturated, less oxygenated, and more N-containing compounds than ESI. Between the APPI dopants, THF-doping yielded spectra with more aliphatic-like and N-containing compounds than toluene-doping. We further demonstrate how fragmentation of THF-doped DOM in APPI resolved subtle differences between riverine DOM that was absent from ESI. In both ionization methods, we describe a linear relationship between atomic and formulaic N-compositions from a range of DOM extracts. This study highlights that THF-doped APPI is useful for uncovering low-intensity aliphatic and peptide-like components in autochthonous DOM, which could aid environmental assessments of DOM across biolability gradients.