Skip to main content

Determination of 2-Methylisoborneol and Geosminin Water by Using Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction-Thermal Desorption Coupled with GC-MS


In water system, odorous compounds are often associated with the metabolites of microorganisms as fungi and blue-green algae, and the related compounds have been commonly found in lakes and reservoirs. Among those compounds, geosmin (GSM) and 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB) have been treated as main odor compounds, which cause the off-flavor issues in natural sources such as freshwater, water reservoirs, marine water ecosystems and even in drinking water. Since of the strong smell of GSM and 2-MIB with earthy flavor and odor, they can be simply detected by human nose. Although those compounds are harmless to human health at certain level, high accumulation in natural water and drinking water led to an undesirable odor. Thus, the detection of the presence of those off-flavor compounds is first step to address above problem. To analysis the undesirable odorous compounds in water and aquaculture products, a concise and sensitive method has been developed by using stir bar sorptive extraction-thermal desorption coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SBSE-TD-GC-MS) in the study. SBSE-TD-GC-MS has been optimized and validated through analyzing 2-MIB and GSM in aquatic samples. The calibration curves of 2-MIB and GSM were linear in the range of 0.5–100 ng/L (r2 > 0.995, RSDs < 3.5%). The limit of detection (LOD, S/N = 3) and limit of quantification (LOQ, S/N = 10) of 2-MIB and GSM were both ~0.2 and 0.5 ng/L, respectively. The recoveries of 2-MIB and GSM were 86–113% with good precision (RSDs < 8%) by spike in 2.5 and 25 ng/L standard compounds. This method was successfully applied to monitor and determinate the amount of 2-MIB and GSM in four types of water samples. Thus, SBSE-TD-GC-MS, a developed technique with high sensitivity and good recoveries, can be applied to detect odorous compounds at very low concentration, by using significantly smaller amounts of water samples, without any pre-concentration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Antonopoulou, M., Evgenidou, E., Lambropoulou, D., and Konstantinou, I., A review on advanced oxidation processes for the removal of taste and odor compounds from aqueous media, Water Res., 2014, vol. 53, pp. 215–234.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Liato, V. and Aïder, M., Geosmin as a source of the earthy-musty smell in fruits, vegetables and water: Origins, impact on foods and water, and review of the removing techniques, Chemosphere, 2017, vol. 181, pp. 9–18.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Watson, S.B., Ridal, J., and Boyer, G.L., Taste and odour and cyanobacterial toxins: Impairment, prediction, and management in the Great Lakes, Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 2008, vol. 65, pp. 1779–1796.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Callejón, R.M., Ubeda, C., Ríos-Reina, R., Morales, M.L., and Troncoso, A.M., Recent developments in the analysis of musty odour compounds in water and wine: A review, J. Chromatogr. A, 2016, vol. 1428, pp. 72–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Liang, C., Wang, D., Ge, X., Yang, M., and Sun, W., Comparative study on the removal technologies of 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) in drinking water, J. Environ. Sci., 2006, vol. 18, pp. 47–51.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ruan, D.L., Aalhus, J.L., Summerfelt, S.T., Davidson, J., Swift, B., and Juarez, M., Determination of off-flavor compounds, 2-methylisoborneol and geosmin, in salmon fillets using stir bar sorptive extraction-thermal desorption coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, J. Chromatogr. A, 2013, vol. 1321, pp. 133–136.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ding, Z., Peng, S., Xia, W., Zheng, H., Chen, X., and Yin, L., Analysis of five earthy-musty odorants in environmental water by HS-SPME/GC-MS, Int. J. Anal. Chem., 2014, vol. 2014, 697260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Benanou, D., Acobas, F., de Roubin, M.R., David, F., and Sandra, P., Analysis of off-flavors in the aquatic environment by stir bar sorptive extraction-thermal desorption-capillary GC/MS/olfactometry, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 2003, vol. 376, pp. 69–77.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kim, H., Hong, Y., Sang, B.I., and Sharma, V.K., Application of SPE followed by large-volume injection GC/MS for the analysis of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in water, Anal. Methods, 2015, vol. 7, pp. 6678–6685.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Gonzalvez, A., Garrigues, S., Armenta, S., and de la Guardia, M., Headspace-liquid phase microextraction for attenuated total reflection infrared determination of volatile organic compounds at trace levels, Anal. Chem., 2010, vol. 82, pp. 3045–3051.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Souza-Silva, É.A., Gionfriddo, E., and Pawliszyn, J., A critical review of the state of the art of solid-phase microextraction of complex matrices II. Food analysis, TrAC, Trends Anal. Chem., 2015, vol. 71, pp. 236–248.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Nogueira, J.M.F., Stir-bar sorptive extraction: 15 years making sample preparation more environment-friendly, TrAC, Trends Anal. Chem., 2015, vol. 71, pp. 214–223.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Sánchez-Rojas, F., Bosch-Ojeda, C., and Cano-Pavón, J.M., A review of stir bar sorptive extraction, Chromatographia, 2009, vol. 69, pp. 79–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. David, F. and Sandra, P., Stir bar sorptive extraction for trace analysis, J. Chromatogr. A, 2007, vol. 1152, pp. 54–69.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Franco-Luesma, E. and Ferreira, V., Quantitative analysis of free and bonded forms of volatile sulfur compouds in wine. Basic methodologies and evidences showing the existence of reversible cation-complexed forms, J. Chromatogr. A, 2014, vol. 1359, pp. 8–15.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Riu, M., Mestres, M., Busto, O., and Guasch, J., Determination of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole in wines by headspace solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-electron-capture detection, J. Chromatogr. A, 2002, vol. 977, pp. 1–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Ochiai, N., Application of stir bar sorptive extraction (SBSE) coupled to thermal desorption GC-MS for determination of ultra-trace level compounds in aqueous samples, AppNote, 2005, vol. 5, pp. 1–3.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Cortada, C., Vidal, L., and Canals, A., Determination of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in water and wine samples by ultrasound-assisted dispersive liquid-liquid microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, J. Chromatogr. A, 2011, vol. 1218, pp. 17–22.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hurlburt, B., Lloyd, S.W., and Grimm, C.C., Comparison of analytical techniques for detection of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in aqueous samples, J. Chromatogr. A, 2009, vol. 47, pp. 670–673.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the open fund project of Key Laboratory of Water Environment Evolution and Pollution Control in Three Gorges Reservoir (Grant no. WEPKL2018YB-07), the Science and Technology Research Program of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission (Grant no. KJQN201901204). This work was also supported by Innovation and Technology Service for Industry (2039005 and 196100045019), Dongguan University of Technology, and startup funds of Dongguan University of Technology (no. GC200906-01).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Chuanjiang Li and Genxiang Li—shared co-first authorship.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dongliang Ruan.

Ethics declarations

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chuanjiang Li, Li, G., Liu, P. et al. Determination of 2-Methylisoborneol and Geosminin Water by Using Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction-Thermal Desorption Coupled with GC-MS. J. Water Chem. Technol. 44, 96–100 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • stir bar sorptive extraction
  • thermal desorption
  • gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol