Direct Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Cellulose and Hemicellulose in Populus Tissue


Pretreatment of bioenergy feedstocks produces complex chemical changes that need to be understood to evaluate the effectiveness of different pretreatment regimens. Feedstock imaging can provide useful information, but high molecular specificity is required to identify components such as cellulose and hemicellulose and to produce useful spatial images. Simple mass spectrometry (MS) is limited by the complexity of the plant tissue. University of Florida researchers have successfully overcome this difficulty by applying matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI) linear ion trap tandem MS technology. In tandem MS, the material goes through two consecutive rounds of MS instead of one. While single MALDI MS images of young Populus wood stems show an even distribution of both cellulose and hemicellulose, tandem MS produces very different images of the distribution of the two plant components. The new strategy offers the high molecular specificity needed for analyzing complex lignocellulosic biomass and will be applicable to many plant species that are potential bioenergy resources.


Lunsford, K. A., G. Peter, and R. Yost. 2011. “Direct Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Cellulose and Hemicellulose in Populus Tissue,” Analytical Chemistry 83(17), 6722-30. (DOI: 10.1021/ac2013527).