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Untargeted Identification of Organo-Bromine Compounds in Lake Sediments by Ultrahigh-Resolution Mass Spectrometry with the Data-Independent Precursor Isolation and Characteristic Fragment Method

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posted on 2015-10-20, 00:00 authored by Hui Peng, Chunli Chen, David M. V. Saunders, Jianxian Sun, Song Tang, Garry Codling, Markus Hecker, Steve Wiseman, Paul D. Jones, An Li, Karl J. Rockne, John P. Giesy
While previous studies have found that unknown natural and synthetic organo-bromine compounds (NSOBCs) contributed more than 99% of the total organic bromine (Br) in the environment, there was no efficient method for untargeted screening to identify NSOBCs in environmental matrixes. A novel untargeted method for identifying NSOBCs, based on ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry (UHRMS) with the Q Exactive instrument was developed. This method included a data-independent precursor isolation and characteristic fragment (DIPIC-Frag) procedure to identify NSOBCs. A total of 180 successive 5-m/z-wide windows were used to isolate precursor ions. This resulted in a sufficient dynamic range and specificity to identify peaks of Br fragment ions for analysis. A total of 2520 peaks of NSOBC compounds containing Br were observed in sediments from Lake Michigan, United States. A new chemometric strategy which combined chromatographic profiles, isotopic peaks, precursor isolation window information, and intensities was used to identify precursor ions and chemical formulas for detecting NSOBCs. Precursor ions for 2163 of the 2520 NSOBCs peaks (86%) were identified, and chemical formulas for 2071 NSOBCs peaks (82%) were determined. After exclusion of isotopic peaks, 1593 unique NSOBCs were identified and chemical formulas derived for each. Most of the compounds identified had not been reported previously and had intensities which were 100- to 1000-fold greater than the congeners of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). In extracts of sediments, these compounds exhibited variations in intensities (<103 to ∼108), m/z values (170.9438–997.5217), retention times on a C18 column (1.0–29.3 min), and the number of Br atoms (1–8). Generally, compounds with greater m/z values had longer retention times and greater numbers of Br atoms. Three compounds were used in a proof-of-concept experiment to demonstrate that structures of some of the screened NSOBCs could be further predicted by combining searching of database libraries and high-resolution MS2 spectra.

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