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Rapid screening of ergot alkaloids in sclerotia by maldi-tof mass spectrometry

Sivagnanam, K., Komatsu, E., Patrick, S., Rampitsch, C., Perreault, H., Gräfenhan, T. (2016). Rapid screening of ergot alkaloids in sclerotia by maldi-tof mass spectrometry, 99(4), 895-898.


Ergot is a common disease of wheat and other cereal grains that is predominantly caused by Claviceps purpurea in the field, often affecting crop yield in addition to the environment. Infected grain can be contaminated with dark sclerotia, which contain fungal metabolites such as ergot alkaloids. The occurrence of ergot alkaloids in cereal grain is a major health concern for humans and livestock. Effective and rapid screening of these mycotoxins is crucial for producers, processors, and consumers of cereal-based food and feed grain. Established methods of ergot alkaloid screening based on LC-MS or GC-MS require laborious processes. A novel method using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDi)-time-of-flight (TOF) MS was developed to identify four ergot alkaloids. Using dihydroxybenzoic acid as the matrix, ergosine, ergocornine, ergocryptine, and ergocristine were readily detected in individual sclerotia of C. purpurea. The accuracy of the identified ergot alkaloids was further confirmed by tandem MS analysis. MALDi-TOF MS is suitable for high-throughput screening of ergot alkaloids because it permits rapid and accurate identification, simple sample preparation, and no derivatization or chromatographic separation.

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