Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in scleractinian coral is usually analysed indirectly as dimethylsulfide (DMS) using gas chromatography (GC) with a sulfur-specific detector. We developed a headspace GC method for mass spectral analysis of DMSP in branching coral where hexa-deuterated DMSP (d 6 -DMSP) was added to samples and standards to optimise the analytical precision and quantitative accuracy. Using this indirect HS-GC-MS method, we show that common coral sample handling techniques did not alter DMSP concentrations in Acropora aspera and that endogenous DMS was insignificant compared to the store of DMSP in A. aspera. Field application of the indirect HS-GC-MS method in all seasons over a 5-year period at Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef indicated that healthy colonies of A. aspera ordinarily seasonally conserve their branch tip store of DMSP; however, this store increased to a higher concentration under extended thermal stress conditions driven by a strong El Niño Southern Oscillation event. A liquid chromatography mass spectral method (LC-MS) was subsequently developed for direct analysis of DMSP in branching coral, also utilising the d 6 -DMSP internal standard. The quantitative comparison of DMSP in four species of Acropora coral by indirect HS-GC-MS and direct LC-MS analyses gave equivalent concentrations in A. aspera only; in the other three species, HS-GC-MS gave consistently higher concentrations, indicating that indirect analysis of DMSP may lead to artificially high values for some coral species. Graphical Abstract Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) was quantified in Acropora spp. of branching coral using deuterated stable isotope dilution mass spectrometry.
Swan, HB, Deschaseaux, ESM, Jones, GB & Eyre, BD 2017, 'Quantification of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) in Acropora spp. of reef-building coral using mass spectrometry with deuterated internal standard', Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, vol. 409, no. 7, pp. 1929-1942.
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