Semiochemicals are often produced in infinitesimally small quantities, so their isolation requires large amounts of starting material, not only requiring significant effort in sample preparation, but also resulting in a complex mixture of compounds from which the bioactive compound needs to be purified and identified. Often, compounds cannot be unambiguously identified by their mass spectra alone, and NMR analysis is required for absolute chemical identification, further exacerbating the situation because NMR is relatively insensitive and requires large amounts of pure analyte, generally more than several micrograms. We developed an integrated approach for purification and NMR analysis of <1 µg of material. Collections from high performance preparative gas-chromatography are directly eluted with minimal NMR solvent into capillary NMR tubes. With this technique, (1)H-NMR spectra were obtained on 50 ng of geranyl acetate, which served as a model compound, and reasonable H-H COSY NMR spectra were obtained from 250 ng of geranyl acetate. This simple off-line integration of preparative GC and NMR will facilitate the purification and chemical identification of novel volatile compounds, such as insect pheromones and other semiochemicals, which occur in minute (sub-nanogram), and often limited, quantities.
The article is published online in the Journal PLoS ONE and is free to access.