New Study Reveals Effective Method for Detecting Nematicide Fluensulfone and Metabolites in Agricultural Soils

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A research team has developed a fast and sensitive method using UHPLC–MS/MS to simultaneously detect the nematicide fluensulfone (FSF) and its two major metabolites in different agricultural soils, providing valuable insights into the environmental behavior of FSF in soil systems.

In a groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Chromatography A, researchers from Southwest University and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in Chongqing, China, have developed a fast and sensitive method to simultaneously detect the nonfumigant nematicide fluensulfone (FSF) and its two major metabolites in various types of agricultural soils (1). The research holds significant implications for understanding the environmental behavior of FSF in soil systems.

The study employed the use of ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography (UHPLC)–tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC–MS/MS) to achieve accurate and reliable detection of FSF and its metabolites, namely 3,4,4-trifluorobut-3-ene-1-sulfonic acid (BSA) and 5 chloro-1,3-thiazole-2-sulfonic acid (TSA). To prepare the soil samples for analysis, a modified quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) method was utilized.

UHPLC–MS/MS combines the strengths of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The technique utilizes high-pressure pumps and small particle columns to achieve faster separations and higher resolution compared to traditional liquid chromatography. Mass spectrometry involves ionizing analyte molecules and separating them based on their mass-to-charge ratio (m/z), providing precise identification and quantification of compounds. With UHPLC–MS/MS, tandem mass spectrometry is employed, involving two stages of mass analysis: precursor ion selection and subsequent fragmentation. This enables specific and reliable identification of compounds and their metabolites, making UHPLC–MS/MS invaluable in pharmaceutical analysis, environmental monitoring, and forensic science, among other fields.

The researchers extracted the soil samples using a mixture of acetonitrile and water (4/1) and subsequently purified them with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). Various parameters affecting purification efficiency and recovery rates, including the type and quantity of sorbent, were meticulously evaluated and compared. The recoveries of the three target analytes in soils exhibited an overall average ranging from 73.1% to 113.9%, with relative standard deviations (including intra-day and inter-day precision) of less than 12.7%. The limit of quantification for all three compounds was determined to be 5 μg/kg.


By successfully applying the established method, researchers were able to examine the degradation of FSF and the formation of its two major metabolites in three distinct types of agricultural soils: black soil, krasnozem, and sierozem. These findings highlight the effectiveness of the developed approach in investigating the environmental fate and behavior of FSF within the agricultural soil system.

The detection and quantification of FSF and its metabolites in agricultural soils hold great significance in ensuring sustainable agricultural practices. Understanding the persistence and behavior of these substances allows for informed decision-making, helping farmers and policymakers to develop appropriate strategies for mitigating any potential risks associated with the use of FSF-based nematicides.

The research conducted by Jing Li and the team from Southwest University and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs presents a vital contribution to the field, offering a robust method for the simultaneous determination of FSF and its metabolites in agricultural soils. As further studies build upon these findings, it is expected that this knowledge will contribute to the development of environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural practices worldwide.


(1) Zuo, W.; Wu, Z.; Xiong, H.; Zhou, H.; Wang, C.; Li, J. Simultaneous determination of the nematicide fluensulfone and its two major metabolites in soils by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. J. Chromatogr. A 2023, 1702,464096. DOI: