Advanced Mass Spectrometry Methods for Analysis of Lipids from Photosynthetic Organisms

  • Bettina Seiwert
  • Patrick Giavalisco
  • Lothar WillmitzerEmail author
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 30)


The analysis of lipids is technically very challenging, not only due to the large number of various classes of compounds provided by the cell, but also due to the enormous heterogeneity of these various classes. Especially plants with their large pigment content and their high degree of polyunsaturated acyl residues make lipid analysis in this system even more complicated. Due to this high complexity, more and more sophisticated large-scale lipid-analysis systems have been developed, intended for the analysis of the so-called “lipidome”, that is the entire lipid composition of a cell or a whole organism. These methods often consist of various building blocks, which show interlaced modularity. The two basic elements of a lipidomic analysis are an efficient extraction procedure and a sensitive detection system. In addition to these two basic elements, depending on the analytical question, additional separation and sample purification procedures can be introduced. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based techniques are at the forefront of lipidomic analysis. These extremely sensitive and accurate detection methods are applied to investigate all kinds of lipid. Their application, in combination with various plant-specific techniques of extraction and separation, including solid-phase extraction, thin-layer chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography are presented in this chapter. Most of the MS-based technologies for lipid profiling of partially polar lipids rely on electrospray ionization, while more apolar lipids, like sterols, can be ionized by techniques, such as atmospheric pressure chemical ionization. A number of various applications employing these mass spectrometric methods will be discussed. Finally combinations of various separation and detection technologies, so-called hyphenated approaches, such as high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry or gas chromatography coupled to time of flight or quad-rupole mass spectrometry, are introduced and their suitability for lipid analysis are discussed.


Lipid Class Direct Infusion High Resolution More Specific Evaporative Light Scatter Detector Plant Lipid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Acetylated steryl glycosides


Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization


Atmospheric pressure photoionization


Charged aerosol detector








Digalactosyl diacylglycerol


Electrospray ionization


Evaporative light scattering detector


Flame ionization detection


Gas chro-matography


Glycosyl ceramide


Glycosyl inositol phosphatidyl ceramide


High-performance liquid chromatography


Long-chain base


Mass spectrometry


Matrix assisted laser desorption ioni-zation


Monogalactosyl diacylglycerol


Normal phase liquid chromatography


Phosphatidic acid












Reversed-phase liquid chromatogra-phy


Solid phase extraction


Steryl glycosides


Sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol


Thin-layer chromatography




X number of carbon atoms and Y number of double bonds


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Seiwert
    • 1
  • Patrick Giavalisco
    • 1
  • Lothar Willmitzer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Wissenschaftspark GolmPotsdam-GolmGermany

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