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Advancing Plant Analysis: Unlocking Elemental Insights with In Vitro Fossilization and LA-ICP-TOFMS

In Vitro Fossilization for High Spatial Resolution Quantification of Elements in Plant Tissue Using LA-ICP-TOFMS 

Pascal Becker, Thomas Nauser, Matthias Wiggenhauser, Beat Aeschlimann, Emmanuel Frossard, and Detlef Günther 
Analytical Chemistry 
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.3c05849 

The introduction of a novel fossilization-based sample preparation method in this study from the Günther Group underscores the essential role of the TOFWERK icpTOF in enabling high-throughput, multi-elemental, and quantitative analysis of various plant tissue samples, helping our understanding of plant responses to environmental factors.

While LA-ICP-MS is well-established in geological applications, quantifying elements in biological tissues presents challenges. Analyzing conventionally dried samples using LA-ICP-MS can yield misleading trends due to irregular ablation behavior of the biological tissue. This paper presents a proof-of-concept sample preparation method where plant tissues are fossilized to solidify the complex biological tissue matrix into a mineral-like matrix. Using standardization with Si as an internal standard, fossilization allows for correction of such phenomena and allows for normalization and consistent ablation processes, reducing image blurring for quantification of elements.  

This analysis approach is demonstrated on leaves of sunflowers, soybeans, and corn grown on both non-spiked and cadmium-spiked agricultural soil. Validation of quantitative results was done through whole leaf digestion followed by ICP-OES analysis, demonstrating that LA-ICP-TOFMS can provide comparative results with quantitative image acquisition, without time-consuming sample preparation steps and by using comparatively safe chemicals. Indeed, using LA-ICP-TOFMS using the icpTOF allows for high-throughput, multi-elemental, quantitative analysis of plant tissue at high spatial resolutions, which opens avenues for better understanding how plants respond to deficiencies and toxicities caused by nutrients and pollutants. The diversity of tested samples suggests that this sample preparation method is suitable for reproducible and quantitative element mapping of various plant samples.   

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