Laser-ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) does not require very flat surfaces, high-precision sample preparation, or the addition of matrix. Because of these features, LAESI-MSI may be the method of choice for spatially-resolved food analysis. In this work, LAESI time-of-flight MSI was investigated for macroscopic and microscopic imaging of pesticides, mycotoxins, and plant metabolites on rose leaves, orange and lemon fruit, ergot bodies, cherry tomatoes, and maize kernels. Accurate mass ion-map data were acquired at sampling locations with an x–y center-to-center distance of 0.2–1.0 mm and were superimposed onto co-registered optical images. The spatially-resolved ion maps of pesticides on rose leaves suggest co-application of registered and banned pesticides. Ion maps of the fungicide imazalil reveal that this compound is only localized on the peel of citrus fruit. However, according to three-dimensional LAESI-MSI the penetration depth of imazalil into the peel has significant local variation. Ion maps of different plant alkaloids on ergot bodies from rye reveal co-localization in accordance with expectations. The feasibility of using untargeted MSI for food analysis was revealed by ion maps of plant metabolites in cherry tomatoes and maize-kernel slices. For tomatoes, traveling-wave ion mobility (TWIM) was used to discriminate between different lycoperoside glycoalkaloid isomers; for maize quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry (MS–MS) was successfully used to elucidate the structure of a localized unknown. It is envisaged that LAESI-MSI will contribute to future research in food science, agriforensics, and plant metabolomics.
- local analysis