Multidimensional analytical approach based on UHPLC-UV-ion mobility-MS for the screening of natural pigments

Tommaso Pacini, Weiqi Fu, Steinn Gudmundsson, A. Eugenio Chiaravalle, Sigurður Brynjólfsson, Bernhard O. Palsson, Giuseppe Astarita, Giuseppe Paglia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Here, we propose a novel strategy that combines a typical ultra high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC), data-independent mass spectrometry (MSE) workflow with traveling wave ion mobility (TWIM) and UV detection, to improve the characterization of carotenoids and chlorophylls in complex biological matrices. UV detection selectively highlighted pigments absorbing at specific wavelengths, while TWIM coupled to MS was used to maximize the peak capacity. We applied this approach for the analysis of pigments in different microalgae samples, including Chlorella vulgaris, Dunaliella salina, and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Using UHPLC-UV-MSE information (retention time, absorbance at 450 nm, and accurate masses of precursors and product ions), we tentatively identified 26 different pigments (carotenes, chlorophylls, and xanthophylls). By adding TWIM information (collision cross sections), we further resolved 5 isobaric pigments, not resolved by UHPLC-UV-MSE alone. The characterization of the molecular phenotypes allowed us to differentiate the microalgae species. Our results demonstrate that a combination of TWIM and UV detection with traditional analytical approaches increases the selectivity and specificity of analysis, providing a new tool to characterize pigments in biological samples. We anticipate that such an analytical approach will be extended to other lipidomics and metabolomics applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2593-2599
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2015

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© 2015 American Chemical Society.


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