Retrospective screening of relevant pesticide metabolites in food using liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometry and accurate-mass databases of parent molecules and diagnostic fragment ions

László Polgár, Juan F. García-Reyes, Péter Fodor, Attila Gyepes, Mihály Dernovics, László Abrankó, Bienvenida Gilbert-López, Antonio Molina-Díaz

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In recent years, the detection and characterization of relevant pesticide metabolites in food is an important task in order to evaluate their formation, kinetics, stability, and toxicity. In this article, a methodology for the systematic screening of pesticides and their main metabolites in fruit and vegetable samples is described, using LC-HRMS and accurate-mass database search of parent compounds and their diagnostic fragment ions. The approach is based on (i) search for parent pesticide molecules; (ii) search for their metabolites in the positive samples, assuming common fragmentation pathways between the metabolites and parent pesticide molecules; and (iii) search for pesticide conjugates using the data from both parent species and diagnostic fragment ions. An accurate-mass database was constructed consisting of 1396 compounds (850 parent compounds, 447 fragment ions and 99 metabolites). The screening process was performed by the software in an automated fashion. The proposed methodology was evaluated with 29 incurred samples and the output obtained was compared to standard pesticide testing methods (targeted LC-MS/MS). Examples on the application of the proposed approach are shown, including the detection of several pesticide glycosides derivatives, which were found with significantly relevant intensities. Glucose-conjugated forms of parent compounds (e.g., fenhexamid- O-glucoside) and those of metabolites (e.g., despropyl-iprodione-N-glycoside) were detected. Facing the lack of standards for glycosylated pesticides, the study was completed with the synthesis of fenhexamid- O-glucoside for quantification purposes. In some cases the pesticide derivatives were found in a relatively high ratio, drawing the attention to these kinds of metabolites and showing that they should not be neglected in multi-residue methods. The global coverage obtained on the 29 analyzed samples showed the usefulness and benefits of the proposed approach and highlights the practical benefit obtained when the so-called screening methods are used as a complementary tool to standard targeted LC-MS/MS methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - Aug 3 2012



  • Accurate-mass database
  • Conjugate metabolite
  • Fragmentation-degradation
  • Glucose conjugation
  • Pesticide metabolite
  • Retrospective screening
  • Synthesis of fenhexamid-O-glucoside

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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