Trace Enantioselective Determination of Imidazolinone Herbicides in Various Food Matrices Using a Modified QuEChERS Method and Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry

  • Rui Li
  • Mingfeng Hu
  • Kunfeng Liu
  • Hui Zhang
  • Xuesheng Li
  • Huihua TanEmail author


A modified QuEChERS method was developed for simultaneous enantioselective determination of three imidazolinone herbicides (imazethapyr, imazamox, and imazapic) in two oil crops (soybeans and peanuts) and three food crops (wheat, maize, and rice) by chiral reversed-phase ultra-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Sample extraction was performed with 20 mL of methanol adjusted to pH 4 with 1% aqueous acetic acid. The supernatant was then cleaned with a primary secondary amine and graphitized carbon black. Several significant factors affecting the performance of the method were optimized. Under the optimum conditions, good linearity (R2 ≥ 0.9931) and acceptable recoveries (63.5–111.5%, relative standard deviation ≤ 22.7%) were obtained for each enantiomer. The limits of detection and quantification ranged from 0.34 to 1.5 μg/kg and 1.1 to 5.0 μg/kg, respectively. For all three imidazolinone herbicides, the S-enantiomers eluted before the R-enantiomers. Finally, several food samples (soybeans, peanuts, wheat, maize, or rice) were analyzed by this method. The enantiomers of the three imidazolinone pesticides (imazethapyr, imazamox, and imazapic) were not found in these samples at the microgram per kilogram level.


Imidazolinone herbicide Enantioselective quantification QuEChERS pretreatment UPLC–MS/MS 


Funding Information

This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (31101464, 31872000).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Rui Li declares that she has no conflict of interest. Mingfeng Hu declares that he has no conflict of interest. Kunfeng Liu declares that he has no conflict of interest. Hui Zhang declares that she has no conflict of interest. Xuesheng Li declares that he has no conflict of interest. Huihua Tan declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Agric-Environment and Agric-products Safety, College of AgricultureGuangxi UniversityNanningPeople’s Republic of China

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