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Measurement of volatile plant compounds in field ambient air by thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry
- Cai, Xiao-Ming, Xu, Xiu-Xiu, Bian, Lei, Luo, Zong-Xiu, Chen, Zong-Mao
- Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 2015 v.407 no.30 pp. 9105-9114
- air, autumn, cold, desorption, development aid, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, insects, methyl salicylate, monitoring, odors, pest control, plantations, quantitative analysis, semiochemicals, summer, tea, temperature
- Determination of volatile plant compounds in field ambient air is important to understand chemical communication between plants and insects and will aid the development of semiochemicals from plants for pest control. In this study, a thermal desorption–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (TD–GC–MS) method was developed to measure ultra-trace levels of volatile plant compounds in field ambient air. The desorption parameters of TD, including sorbent tube material, tube desorption temperature, desorption time, and cold trap temperature, were selected and optimized. In GC–MS analysis, the selected ion monitoring mode was used for enhanced sensitivity and selectivity. This method was sufficiently sensitive to detect part-per-trillion levels of volatile plant compounds in field ambient air. Laboratory and field evaluation revealed that the method presented high precision and accuracy. Field studies indicated that the background odor of tea plantations contained some common volatile plant compounds, such as (Z)-3-hexenol, methyl salicylate, and (E)-ocimene, at concentrations ranging from 1 to 3400 ng m⁻³. In addition, the background odor in summer was more abundant in quality and quantity than in autumn. Relative to previous methods, the TD–GC–MS method is more sensitive, permitting accurate qualitative and quantitative measurements of volatile plant compounds in field ambient air.