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Journal Article

The influence of hydrolysis and derivatization on the determination of amino acid content and isotopic ratios in dual-labeled (13C, 15N) white clover


Larsen,  Thomas
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Enggrob, K. L., Larsen, T., Larsen, M., Elsgaard, L., & Rasmussen, J. (2018). The influence of hydrolysis and derivatization on the determination of amino acid content and isotopic ratios in dual-labeled (13C, 15N) white clover. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 33(1), 21-30. doi:10.1002/rcm.8300.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-9A06-8
Rationale The cycling of peptide- and protein-bound amino acids (AAs) is important for studying the rate-limiting steps in soil nitrogen (N) turnover. A strong tool is stable C and N isotopes used in combination with compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA), where a prerequisite for analysis is appropriate methods for peptide and protein hydrolysis and appropriate methods for derivatization of AAs for analysis by gas chromatography (GC). Methods We examined the efficiency of a standard acidic hydrolysis (6 M HCl, 20 h at 110°C) and a fast acidic hydrolysis (6 M HCl, 70 min at 150°C) on the recovery of AAs from a protein standard (bovine serum albumin). The best methods were used on dual-labeled (13C and 15N) clover shoot and root juice, divided into four molecular weight (Mw) size fractions. We used NAIP (N-acetyl isopropyl esterification) derivatization for GC/combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (C-IRMS) analysis of AA standards. Results The NAIP derivatization gave very low limits of detection (LODs) (< 2 pmol) and limits of quantification (LOQs) ranging from 0.55 to 4.89 pmol. Comparing the concentrations of individual AAs in hydrolyzed versus unhydrolyzed clover juice samples of the low Mw size fraction (<1 kDa) showed a significant decline in concentration (p <0.03) for seven AAs after hydrolysis. Despite the decline in AA concentration, we found a linear connection between the obtained atomic fraction (13C/total carbon and 15N/total nitrogen) for individual AAs of hydrolyzed versus unhydrolyzed samples. Conclusions The methodology distinguished differences in atomic fractions across AAs, in individual AAs in Mw size fractions, and between shoot and root samples of experimentally labeled white clover. Specifically, the method separated L-glutamate (Glu) and glutamine (Gln). Thus, for a broader use in plant and soil ecology, we present an optimized methodology for GC/C-IRMS analysis of AAs from organic nitrogen samples enriched with 13C and 15N – AA stable isotope probing (SIP).