Analytica chimica acta

The detection and mapping of the spatial distribution of insect defense compounds by desorption atmospheric pressure photoionization Orbitrap mass spectrometry.

PMID 26320640


Many insects use chemicals synthesized in exocrine glands and stored in reservoirs to protect themselves. Two chemically defended insects were used as models for the development of a new rapid analytical method based on desorption atmospheric pressure photoionization-mass spectrometry (DAPPI-MS). The distribution of defensive chemicals on the insect body surface was studied. Since these chemicals are predominantly nonpolar, DAPPI was a suitable analytical method. Repeatability of DAPPI-MS signals and effects related to non-planarity and roughness of samples were investigated using acrylic sheets uniformly covered with an analyte. After that, analytical figures of merit of the technique were determined. The spatial distribution of (E)-1-nitropentadec-1-ene, a toxic nitro compound synthesized by soldiers of the termite Prorhinotermes simplex, was investigated. Then, the spatial distribution of the unsaturated aldehydes (E)-hex-2-enal, (E)-4-oxohex-2-enal, (E)-oct-2-enal, (E,E)-deca-2,4-dienal and (E)-dec-2-enal was monitored in the stink bug Graphosoma lineatum. Chemicals present on the body surface were scanned along the median line of the insect from the head to the abdomen and vice versa, employing either the MS or MS(2) mode. In this fast and simple way, the opening of the frontal gland on the frons of termite soldiers and the position of the frontal gland reservoir, extending deep into the abdominal cavity, were localized. In the stink bug, the opening of the metathoracic scent glands (ostiole) on the ventral side of the thorax as well as the gland reservoir in the median position under the ventral surface of the anterior abdomen were detected and localized. The developed method has future prospects in routine laboratory use in life sciences.