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Plant and Fungal Small Molecule Analysis Laboratory at Kew Gardens

The Plant and Fungal Small Molecule Analysis Laboratory at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew combines advanced mass spectrometry and other analytical instrumentation with on-site access to the small molecules contained within Kew’s collection of 8.5 million specimens of plants and fungi, together with recognised expertise in small molecule analysis.

Available tools

The main instruments in the laboratory are:

  • HRAM LC-MS: Thermo Scientific LTQ-Orbitrap XL
  • LC-MS: Thermo Scientific LTQ Velos Pro
  • TD-GC-MS: Agilent 5975C with Markes TD100
  • NMR: Bruker Avance IIII HD 400 MHz
  • FT-NIR/MIR: Perkin-Elmer Frontier/Spotlight 200

The laboratory has compiled an in-house library containing 2,700 MSn spectra of plant small molecules and holds an academic reference collection of 1,250 natural products.

Access to the laboratory is generally through a grant-funded project with a Kew co-PI that aligns with Kew’s strategic aims, although we have the ability to perform a limited number of analyses as a chargeable service.

In the first instance, contact the laboratory manager Dr. Geoffrey Kite (g.kite@kew.org)



Selected methodological publications from the Plant and Fungal Small Molecule Analysis Laboratory

Michl, J., Kite, G.C., Wanke, S., Zierau, O., Vollmer, G., Neinhuis, C., Simmonds, M.S.J., Heinrich, M. (2016). LC-MS-and 1H NMR-based metabolomic analysis and in vitro toxicological assessment of 43 Aristolochia species. Journal of Natural Products 79: 30–37. Available online

Kite, G.C., Rowe, E.R., Veitch, N.C., Turner, J.E., Dauncey, E.A. (2013). Generic detection of basic taxoids in wood of European Yew (Taxus baccata) by liquid chromatography–ion trap mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography B 915‒916: 21‒27. Available online

Kite, G. (2013). Analysing glycosyl groups of saponins by serial mass spectrometry of sodiated molecules. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 27: 366‒368. Available online

Kite, G.C. & Veitch, N.C. (2011). Identification of common glycosyl groups of flavonoid O-glycosides by serial mass spectrometry of sodiated species. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 25: 2579‒2590. Available online

Kite, G.C., Green, P.W.C, Veitch, N.C, Groves, M.C., Gasson, P.E. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2010). Dalnigrin, a neoflavonoid marker for the identification of Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) in CITES enforcement. Phytochemistry 71: 1122‒1131. Available online

Kite, G.C. & Veitch, N.C. (2009). Assigning glucose or galactose as the primary glycosidic sugar in 3-O-mono, di- and triglycosides of kaempferol using negative ion electrospray and serial mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 23: 3125‒3132. Available online

Howes, M.-J.R., Kite, G.C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2009). Distinguishing Chinese star anise from Japanese star anise using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.  Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry  57: 5783‒5789. Available online

Kite, G.C., Porter, E.A. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2007). Chromatographic behaviour of saponins studied by high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A, 1148: 177–183. Available online

Kite, G.C., Stoneham, C.A., Veitch, N.C., Stein, B.K. & Whitwell, K.E. (2006). Application of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to the investigation of poisoning by Oenanthe crocata. Journal of Chromatography B 838: 63‒70. Available online

Kite, G.C., Porter, E.A. Denison, F.C., Grayer, R.J., Veitch, N.C. Butler, I. & Simmonds, M.S.J (2006). Data-directed scan sequence for the general assignment of C-glycosylflavone O-glycosides in plant extracts by liquid chromatography-ion trap mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A 1104: 123‒131. Available online

Kite, G.C., Howes, M-J, R. & Simmonds M.S.J. (2004). Metabolomic analysis of saponins in crude extracts of Quillaja saponaria by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry for product authentication. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 18: 2859‒2870. Available online

Kite, G.C., Ismail, M., Simmonds, M.S.J. & Houghton, P.J. (2003). Use of doubly protonated molecules in the analysis of cathedulins in crude extracts of khat (Catha edulis) by liquid chromatography-serial mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 17: 1553‒1564. Available online

Kite, G.C., Howes, M.-J. R., Leon, C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2003). Liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry of malonyl-ginsenosides in the authentication of ginseng. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 17: 238‒244. Available online

Kite, G.C., Yule, M.A., Leon, C. & Simmonds, M.S.J. (2002). Detecting aristolochic acids in herbal remedies by liquid chromatography/serial mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 16: 585‒590. Available online

Kite G.C., Lawrence T.J. & Dauncey E.A. (2000). Detecting Taxus poisoning in horses using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Veterinary and Human Toxicology 42: 151‒4.

Egan, M.J., Kite, G.C., Porter, E.A., Simmonds, M.S.J. & Howells, S. (2000). Electrospray and APCI analysis of polyhydroxyalkaloids using positive and negative collision induced dissociation experiments in a quadrupole ion trap. The Analyst 125: 1409‒1414. Available online

Kite, G.C. (1999). Differentiation of epimeric mono- and dihydroxypipecolic acids by negative ion sequential mass spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 13: 1063‒1066. Available online