A portable gas chromatograph with simultaneous detection by mass spectrometry and electroantennography for the highly sensitive in situ measurement of volatiles


Mating disruption is a sustainable method for the control of insect pests, involving the release of synthetic sex pheromones that disrupt the olfactory localization of females by males. However, the development and refinement of this strategy is hampered because current instruments lack the sensitivity to detect volatile organic chemicals in the field, and portable electroantennograms produce non-comparable relative units and distorted results in the presence of plant volatiles. To address the demand for more sensitive instruments that are suitable for the rapid in situ detection of airborne pheromones, we have developed a portable, automated needle trap device connected to a gas chromatograph, mass spectrometer, and electroantennographic detector (NTD-GC-MS/EAD) suitable for field applications. We tested the instrument by measuring the concentration of the sex pheromone (E,Z)-7,9-dodecadienyl acetate, which is used to disrupt the mating of the European grapevine moth Lobesia botrana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Our data confirm that the instrument generates highly reproducible results and is highly sensitive, with a detection threshold of 3 ng/m3 (E,Z)-7,9-dodecadienyl acetate in outside air.

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The authors acknowledge project funding provided by the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art via the LOEWE research focus “AmbiProbe” which includes a generous grant to AV and RD. We thank Dr. Michael Breuer for support with L. botrana and discussions, Prof. Dr. Reineke for providing measurement sites in Geisenheim, and Stephan Fiedler for help with field measurements. The authors also thank Dr. Richard M. Twyman for editing the manuscript and Prof. Dr. Brückner for his valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Andreas Vilcinskas.

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Schott, M., Wehrenfennig, C., Gasch, T. et al. A portable gas chromatograph with simultaneous detection by mass spectrometry and electroantennography for the highly sensitive in situ measurement of volatiles. Anal Bioanal Chem 405, 7457–7467 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00216-013-7196-3

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  • Insect mating disruption
  • Biosensor
  • VOC quantification
  • Mobile GC-MS
  • Needle trap device
  • Electroantennography