Infrared matrix-assisted laser desorption electrospray ionization (IR-MALDESI) mass spectrometry imaging analysis of endogenous metabolites in cherry tomatoes†
We report the spatially resolved metabolic profiling of cherry tomatoes using infrared matrix-assisted laser desorption electrospray ionization (IR-MALDESI), a mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) technique that operates at ambient conditions and requires no sample derivatization. Tomatoes were flash frozen, cryosectioned and imaged with adequate spatial resolution to distinguish between the major tissue structures of a tomato including the skin, mesocarp, endocarp, locular tissue, septum, placenta, seed and seed coating. Metabolites were imaged from 100–1200 m/z, enabling significant coverage of a diverse array of metabolites including amino acids and lipids along with the major secondary metabolite classes: terpenes, phenolics, glycosides, and alkaloids. During the metabolic profiling, we found endogenous carotenoid hydrocarbons, namely lycopene or its structural isomer β-carotene, ionized as radical cations. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of ionizing hydrocarbons in the MSI field.