Quantitation of amino sugar stereoisomer and muramic acid biomarkers by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.


Department of Earth Science, Memorial University, St. John's, NL, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


A rapid separation and quantitation of the stereoisomer amino sugars glucosamine, galactosamine, and mannosamine, along with muramic acid, is needed. These compounds, when their quantities are accurate, can be used to understand the origin and fate of natural organic matter (NOM) in the environment. These target molecules are biomarkers of fungi and bacteria and allow the deconvolution of microbial transformations and degradation of NOM in a wide variety of environmental matrices. Analytical methods applied to this suite of biomarkers are needed to understand carbon and nitrogen biogeochemistry with a changing global climate. Traditional separations of these analytes by gas chromatography require sample derivatization, as does reverse phase liquid chromatography. In contrast, ion chromatography can separate the analytes directly, but requires a separate analytical method to quantify muramic acid. In this work we present a direct analysis of all these molecules using hydrophilic liquid interaction chromatography. Solvent composition, buffer strength, pH, flow rate, and column temperature were optimized. The method can separate these four compounds and the biopolymeric precursor molecule N-acetylglucosamine in a single run in under 8 min with equivalent resolution to the best previously reported separations that did not require derivatization prior to analysis. Detection of the analytes was performed by both tandem and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. The method was assessed for its quantitative capabilities through i) peak area assignment, ii) check standards with ratios of the target analytes likely to be present in real samples, iii) an injection internal standard, and iv) quantitative analysis of real soil hydrolysates by external calibration and standard addition approaches. Across their expected analytical ranges the response for each analyte was highly linear with good accuracy (<25%) and precision (<15%) over three orders of magnitude. Detection limits of 20 µg L-1 were found for galactosamine and 5 µg L-1 for the remainder of the analytes, comparable to the majority of other methods reported in the literature. Overall, this new approach can directly and rapidly quantify amino sugars recovered in environmental hydrolysates.


Amino sugars,Biomarkers,Hydrophilic liquid interaction chromatography,Mass spectrometry,Nitrogen cycle,Soil organic matter,

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