Rapid identification of plant materials by wooden-tip electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and a strategy to differentiate the bulbs of Fritillaria

Gui Zhong Xin, Bin Hu, Zi Qi Shi, Yin Ching Lam, Tina Ting Xia Dong, Ping Li, Zhongping Yao, Karl W.K. Tsim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The counterfeit plant products, especially by using incorrect plant materials in pharmaceutical industry, have become a global problem. The plant materials belonging to closely related species but differing in medicinal properties are difficult to be identified. Here, a novel and generally applicable approach to identify the sources of plant materials was developed, which was based on the use of wooden-tip electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (wooden-tip ESI-MS) and multivariate statistical analysis of unidentified MS features (non-targeted). Using this approach, six officinal species of Fritillariae Cirrhosae Bulbus had been successfully differentiated. In addition, Fritillariae Pallidiflorae Bulbus, a common adulterant of Fritillariae Cirrhosae Bulbus, was also identified by using the strategy reported here. Compared with DNA phylogenetic trees, our approach provided finer resolution in distinguishing the closely related Fritillaria species. By combining wooden-tip ESI-MS and multivariate statistical analysis, a useful method was developed here for rapid identification of the sources of herbs, which showed promising perspectives in tracking the supply chain of pharmaceutical suppliers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2014


  • Chinese herbs
  • Fritillariae Cirrhosae Bulbus
  • High throughput
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolomics
  • Wooden-tip electrospray ionization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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