Comprehensive profiling of semi‐polar phytochemicals in whole wheat grains (Triticum aestivum) using liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization quadrupole time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry
Introduction: Wheat (Triticum aestivum) it is one of the most important staple food crops worldwide and represents an important resource for human nutrition. Besides starch, proteins and micronutrients wheat grains accumulate a highly diverse set of phytochemicals. Objectives: This work aimed at the development and validation of an analytical workflow for comprehensive profiling of semi-polar phytochemicals in whole wheat grains. Method: Reversed-phase ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC/ESI-QTOFMS) was used as analytical platform. For annotation of metabolites accurate mass collision-induced dissociation mass spectra were acquired and interpreted in conjunction with literature data, database queries and analyses of reference compounds. Results: Based on reversed-phase UHPLC/ESI-QTOFMS an analytical workflow for comprehensive profiling of semi-polar phytochemicals in whole wheat grains was developed. For method development the extraction procedure and the chromatographic separation were optimized. Using whole grains of eight wheat cultivars a total of 248 metabolites were annotated and characterized by chromatographic and tandem mass spectral data. Annotated metabolites comprise hydroquinones, hydroxycinnamic acid amides, flavonoids, benzoxazinoids, lignans and other phenolics as well as numerous primary metabolites such as nucleosides, amino acids and derivatives, organic acids, saccharides and B vitamin derivatives. For method validation, recovery rates and matrix effects were determined for ten exogenous model compounds. Repeatability and linearity were assessed for 39 representative endogenous metabolites. In addition, the accuracy of relative quantification was evaluated for six exogenous model compounds. Conclusions: In conjunction with non-targeted and targeted data analysis strategies the developed analytical workflow was successfully applied to discern differences in the profiles of semi-polar phytochemicals accumulating in whole grains of eight wheat cultivars.