In-house validation of a rapid and efficient procedure for simultaneous determination of ergot alkaloids and other mycotoxins in wheat and maize
A fundamental step in addressing the global problem of mycotoxins is the development of highly sensitive, multi-class extraction and detection methods. This constitutes a field of research that has in recent years enjoyed a steady advance. Such methods, generally based on liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, are widely reported successfully detecting various mycotoxins in different food and feed samples. In this work, an innovative approach to multi-class mycotoxin control is proposed, offering specific advantages: a broader inclusion of more mycotoxin classes, robust and thorough extraction for all target compounds despite their varied chemical properties, and determination of all analytes from a single injection. The method involved the extraction and quantification of the main mycotoxins produced by Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium fungi, as well as their reported derivatives, together with 12 other compounds most commonly produced by Claviceps purpurea. The popularly reported QuEChERS technique has been reduced to a simple “salting-out liquid-liquid extraction” (SO-LLE) to obtain the most efficient extraction of the aforementioned mycotoxin classes in a very short time. This is in particular extremely important in ensuring correct determination of individual ergot alkaloids, for which short and robust sample preparation as well as short analytical sequences were key for minimizing the epimerization during analysis. The analyses of wheat and maize samples were performed using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. Matrix-matched calibration curves were established and limits of quantification were below the maximum levels established by the EU regulation. The precision (repeatability and intermediate precision) was lower than 13% in all cases and recoveries ranged between 60 and 98% in maize and between 62 and 103% in wheat, fulfilling the current legislation. The method was applied to study the co-occurrence of these mycotoxins in wheat (n = 13) and maize (n = 15) samples from six European countries. A successful quantification of 23 different mycotoxins, from all major classes, in 85% of wheat and 93% of maize samples was achieved.
KeywordsMycotoxins Co-occurrence Cereals Ultra-high performance liquid chromatography Mass spectrometry QuEChERS SO-LLE
The authors thank the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Project Ref: AGL2015-70708-R). Natalia Arroyo-Manzanares received a post-doctoral grant from the University of Granada.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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