Intact glucosinolate analysis in plant extracts by programmed cone voltage electrospray LC/MS: Performance and comparison with LC/MS/MS methods

Fred A. Mellon, Richard N. Bennett, Birgit Holst, Gary Williamson

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100 Citations (Scopus)


We present a comprehensive, sensitive, and highly specific negative ion electrospray LC/MS method for identifying all structural classes of glucosinolates in crude plant extracts. The technique is based on the observation of simultaneous maxima in the abundances of the m/z 96 and 97 ions, generated by programmed cone voltage fragmentation, in the mass chromatogram. The abundance ratios lie in the range 1:2-1:4 ([m/z 96]/[m/z 97]). Examination of the corresponding full-scan mass spectra allows individual glucosinolates of all structural classes to be identified rapidly and with confidence. The use of linearly programmed cone voltage fragmentation enhances characteristic fragment ions without compromising the abundance of the analytically important [M - H]- ion and its associated (and analytically useful) sulfur isotope peaks. Detection limits are in the low nanogram range for full-scan, programmed cone voltage spectra. Comparison of the technique with LC/MS/MS methods (product ion, precursor ion, and constant neutral loss scans) has shown that the sensitivity and selectivity of the programmed cone voltage method is superior. Data obtained on a variety of plant extracts confirmed that the methodology was robust and reliable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Glucosinolates
  • Human health
  • Ion-pair
  • LC/MS
  • MS/MS

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