Solid phase microextraction coupled with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography–time-of-flight mass spectrometry for high-resolution metabolite profiling in apples: Implementation of structured separations for optimization of sample preparation procedure in complex samples
Metabolomics currently represents one of the fastest growing high-throughput molecular analysis platforms that refer to the simultaneous and unbiased analysis of metabolite pools constituting a particular biological system under investigation. In response to the ever increasing interest in development of reliable methods competent with obtaining a complete and accurate metabolomic snapshot for subsequent identification, quantification and profiling studies, the purpose of the current investigation is to test the feasibility of solid phase microextraction for advanced fingerprinting of volatile and semivolatile metabolites in complex samples. In particular, the current study is focussed on the development and optimization of solid phase microextraction (SPME) – comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography–time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC × GC–ToFMS) methodology for metabolite profiling of apples (Malus ×domestica Borkh.). For the first time, GC × GC attributes in terms of molecular structure–retention relationships and utilization of two-dimensional separation space on orthogonal GC × GC setup were exploited in the field of SPME method optimization for complex sample analysis. Analytical performance data were assessed in terms of method precision when commercial coatings are employed in spiked metabolite aqueous sample analysis. The optimized method consisted of the implementation of direct immersion SPME (DI-SPME) extraction mode and its application to metabolite profiling of apples, and resulted in a tentative identification of 399 metabolites and the composition of a metabolite database far more comprehensive than those obtainable with classical one-dimensional GC approaches. Considering that specific metabolome constituents were for the first time reported in the current study, a valuable approach for future advanced fingerprinting studies in the field of fruit biology is proposed. The current study also intensifies the understanding of SPME–GC × GC–ToFMS hyphenation and outlines the benefits of facilitating GC × GC for SPME method optimization. The obtained results clearly illustrate that acquisition of a more complete metabolome snapshot is only attainable under optimized conditions for both techniques. âº Development of SPME–GC × GC–ToFMS method for metabolite profiling of apples was completed. âº GC × GC structurally ordered chromatograms were exploited for SPME method optimization. âº Hyphenation of DI-SPME and GC × GC–ToFMS resulted in identification of 399 metabolites.