Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 406, Issue 1, pp 171–182 | Cite as

Chemical imaging of trichome specialized metabolites using contact printing and laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry

Paper in Forefront


Cell transfer by contact printing coupled with carbon-substrate-assisted laser desorption/ionization was used to directly profile and image secondary metabolites in trichomes on leaves of the wild tomato Solanum habrochaites. Major specialized metabolites, including acyl sugars, alkaloids, flavonoids, and terpenoid acids, were successfully detected in positive ion mode or negative ion mode, and in some cases in both modes. This simple solvent-free and matrix-free sample preparation for mass spectrometry imaging avoids tedious sample preparation steps, and high-spatial-resolution images were obtained. Metabolite profiles were generated for individual glandular trichomes from a single Solanum habrochaites leaf at a spatial resolution of around 50 μm. Relative quantitative data from imaging experiments were validated by independent liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis of subsamples from fresh plant material. The spatially resolved metabolite profiles of individual glands provided new information about the complexity of biosynthesis of specialized metabolites at the cellular-resolution scale. In addition, this technique offers a scheme capable of high-throughput profiling of metabolites in trichomes and irregularly shaped tissues and spatially discontinuous cells of a given cell type.


Mass spectrometry imaging Glandular trichomes Plant specialized metabolites Single-cell analysis 



The authors thank Christoph Benning for providing access to a light microscope, Greg Swain for providing glassy carbon, Sigma-Aldrich Supelco for the prototype high-performance LC column, the Michigan State University Center for Advanced Microscopy for assistance with optical imaging, Robert Last, Tony Schilmiller, Eran Pichersky, and Feng Shi for valuable discussions, and the RTSF Mass Spectrometry and Metabolomics Core at Michigan State University. Support for this research was provided by NSF grants IOS-1025636 and DBI-0604336 (R.L. Last principal investigator), and Michigan AgBioResearch.

Supplementary material

216_2013_7444_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (742 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 742 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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