Modified QuEChERS Extraction for the Analysis of Young-of-Year Smallmouth Bass Using GC×GC-TOFMS
Signs of disease, such as external lesions, have been prevalent in smallmouth bass throughout the Susquehanna River Basin, USA. Previous targeted chemical studies in this system have identified known persistent organic pollutants, but a common explanatory link across multiple affected sites remains undetermined. A fast and robust extraction method that can be applied to young-of-year fish is needed to effectively screen for target and non-target compounds that may be impacting organism health. The quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) extraction methodology was optimized to perform both targeted and non-targeted chemical analyses from a single extraction of whole young-of-year fish. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) was used for extract analysis. Sample extraction was performed using the solvent ethyl acetate, followed by a two-step cleanup in which samples were frozen for lipid removal and subjected to dispersive solid phase extraction using Florisil. A sample of 21 young-of-year smallmouth bass collected from areas with disease and exhibiting different types of external lesions were evaluated for 233 target compounds. A total of 34 organic contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated diphenyl ethers, organochlorinated pesticides, and personal care products, were detected. Data from this sample set was then analyzed for non-targets. Using the Fisher ratio method and multivariate analysis, an additional 10 significant features were identified specific to either fish with visible lesions or with no visible disease characteristics.