Molecular Networking as a Dereplication Strategy

A major goal in natural product discovery programs is to rapidly dereplicate known entities from complex biological extracts. We demonstrate here that molecular networking, an approach that organizes MS/MS data based on chemical similarity, is a powerful complement to traditional dereplication strategies. Successful dereplication with molecular networks requires MS/MS spectra of the natural product mixture along with MS/MS spectra of known standards, synthetic compounds, or well-characterized organisms, preferably organized into robust databases. This approach can accommodate different ionization platforms, enabling cross correlations of MS/MS data from ambient ionization, direct infusion, and LC-based methods. Molecular networking not only dereplicates known molecules from complex mixtures, it also captures related analogues, a challenge for many other dereplication strategies. To illustrate its utility as a dereplication tool, we apply mass spectrometry-based molecular networking to a diverse array of marine and terrestrial microbial samples, illustrating the dereplication of 58 molecules including analogues.