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Analysis of high-molecular-weight fructan polymers in crude plant extracts by high-resolution LC-MS

Reputable Mentor II
Reputable Mentor II
Harrison S, Fraser K, Lane G, Hughes D, Villas-Boas S, Rasmussen S.
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2011 Nov;401(9):2955-63.
The main water-soluble carbohydrates in temperate forage grasses are polymeric fructans. Fructans consist of fructose chains of various chain lengths attached to sucrose as a core molecule. In grasses, fructans are a complex mixture of a large number of isomeric oligomers with a degree of polymerisation ranging from 3 to >100. Accurate monitoring and unambiguous peak identification requires chromatographic separation coupled to mass spectrometry. The mass range of ion trap mass spectrometers is limited, and we show here how monitoring selected multiply charged ions can be used for the detection and quantification of individual isomers and oligomers of high mass, particularly those of high degree of polymerization (DP > 20) in complex plant extracts. Previously reported methods using linear ion traps with low mass resolution have been shown to be useful for the detection of fructans with a DP up to 49. Here, we report a method using high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) using an Exactive Orbitrap MS which greatly improves the signal-to-noise ratio and allows the detection of fructans up to DP = 100. High-sugar (HS) Lolium perenne cultivars with high concentrations of these fructans have been shown to be of benefit to the pastoral agricultural industry because they improve rumen nitrogen use efficiency and reduce nitrous oxide emissions from pastures. We demonstrate with our method that these HS grasses not only contain increased amounts of fructans in leaf blades but also accumulate fructans with much higher DP compared to cultivars with normal sugar levels.
AgResearch, Palmerston North, 4442, New Zealand.
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