ABS47832

Understanding the factors driving bioactive phlorotannins in brown algae – one step closer to commercial application


  • Oral Presentation
  • Plant Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • 13 Jun 2018 11:50
  • FS-G01, UCD Agriculture and food science Centre
  • View all IPSAM abstracts

Dara Kirke*
Botany and Plant Science, School of Natural Sciences, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway

Dilip Rai
Food Biosciences, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin 15

Dagmar Stengel
Botany and Plant Science, School of Natural Sciences, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway

*Presenting Author


Marine polyphenols, phlorotannins, are exclusive to brown algae; particularly owing to their potent antioxidant capacity, phlorotannins exhibit great potential for the development of novel health-promoting products with high commercial value within pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, nutraceutical and food industries. However, the very cause of their appeal has been a major factor in hindering progression towards their commercialisation. The high affinity of phlorotannins, like all polyphenols, for reactivity and oxidation is what makes them ideal ingredients for food preservation or anti-aging products, among others. However, it is also central to the difficulty associated with their structural elucidation. As a result, little information is available regarding their biosynthesis or the factors involved therein. Furthermore, their ecological involvement in algal defence renders their natural concentrations highly variable, adding to the difficulty of determining the specific factors driving their natural variability, which to date, has been fundamentally reliant on their quantification via colorimetric reactions. Such methods, however, provide no insight into their chemical properties, such as molecular weight or conformational arrangements, which interactively influence the degree of bioactivity of the compound. Here, variability incurred by abiotic and biotic factors on semi-purified low molecular weight (LMW) phlorotannin fractions, specifically, using mass spectrometric analytical techniques has been assessed. An integrated approach of both field sampling and laboratory-controlled experiments is employed to attain a more in-depth understanding of the effects abiotic and biotic factors impose on phlorotannin chemistry. Results confirm phlorotannins as effective radical scavengers and promising candidates for commercial integration as well as highlighting the physiological flexibility they allowed in algal acclimation.