Objective: This mini-review highlights the highly sensitive ¨soft¨ ionization
mass spectrometric methods applied to chlorophyll chemistry.
Method: This is a first-hand review of the important developments made over the mass
spectrometry of chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b derivatives.
Results: The review covers the capacity of the mass spectrometric techniques to solve
problems, e.g., assignment of stereochemical configuration at a chiral center,
determination of the structures of the chlorophyll b allomers, which are difficult to prepare
and purify in larger amounts, and elucidation of the mechanism of Willstatter's
allomerization of chlorophylls. Only one example, in which the conventional electron impact
mass spectrometry was used, is provided by the characterization of the chlorophyll derivatives found as
retinal pigments in the eyes of the remarkable deep-sea fish Malacosteus niger. Other mass spectrometric investigations,
dealing with structural properties of chlorophylls, are considered briefly in an end paragraph of
Conclusion: Different mass spectrometric techniques have been shown to be very useful in the structural assignments
of chlorophyll derivatives.