Ultrahigh performance LC/FT-MS non-targeted screening for biomass burning organic aerosol with MZmine2 and MFAssignR

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Department of Chemistry


In recent years, ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography Fourier transform mass spectrometry (LC / FT-MS) based non-targeted screening (NTS) methods have become increasingly popular for comprehensive analysis of complex organic mixtures. However, applying these methods for environmental complex mixture analysis is challenging due to the extreme complexity of natural samples and a lack of standard samples or surrogates for environmental complex mixtures. Furthermore, limited molecular markers in the databases and insufficient data processing software workflows make the application of these methods more challenging for environmental complex mixtures. In this work, we implement a new NTS data processing workflow to process data collected from ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography and Fourier transform Orbitrap Elite Mass Spectrometry (LC/FT-MS) by combining MZmine2 and MFAssignR, two opensource data processing tools and commercial Mesquite liquid smoke as a surrogate for biomass burning organic aerosol. MZmine 2.53 data extraction followed MFAssignR molecular formula assignment offered noise free and highly accurate 1733 individual molecular formulas presented in liquid smoke with 4906 molecular species, including isomers. The results of this new approach were consistent with the results of direct infusion FT-MS analysis confirming its reliability. Over 90% of the molecular formulas presented in mesquite liquid smoke were matched with the molecular formulas of ambient biomass burning organic aerosol. This suggests the potential use of commercial liquid smoke is an acceptable surrogate for biomass burning organic aerosol research. The presented method significantly improves the identification of the molecular composition of biomass burning organic aerosol by successfully addressing some of the limitations related to the data analysis and giving a semi quantitative insight into the analysis.

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