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Phytochemical Tests

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Phytochemicals are secondary metabolites that are naturally produced by plants. Phytochemicals not only provide plants with featured color, aroma and flavor, but also play important roles in the regulation of plant cell functions. Moreover, accumulating studies have shown that the phytochemicals have enormous medicinal values with minimum side effects. Therefore, the characterization and evaluation of phytochemicals is a critical step for the pharmaceutical discoveries of plant-derived medicines.

Standard phytochemical tests require both extraction of active phytochemical from plant materials, as well as detection and analysis of target phytochemical contents. Lifeasible, as a leading plant biotechnology company, provides a full range of traditional and advanced methods for both plant extraction and phytochemical detection:

Extraction Methods

The selection of extraction methods is based on the types of plant materials (eg., plant cells, tissues or whole plant), as well as the biochemical characters of the target phytochemicals (solubility, stability, etc.)

  • Plant tissue homogenization. Plant tissues are homogenized in specific solvents, followed by vortexting. Plant extract is then obtained by filtration.
  • Serial exhaustive extraction. Plant materials undergo successive extractions with solvents of polarity gradients.
  • Soxhlet extraction. Feasible for the extraction of compounds with low solubility.
  • Fluid extraction. Plant materials are placed in a stoppered container with solvent. Frequent agitation is applied until the materials are dissolved.
  • Decoction. Plant extracts are obtained by boiling of 15 min. Suitable for extraction of water soluble components.
  • Digestion. Plant materials are macerated by gentle heat treatment.
  • Percolation. Plant materials are macerated in a percolator for 24 h.
  • Sonication. Sonication precedes permeability of plant cell walls, and thus facilities the extraction of phytochemical components.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis allows the detection and sometimes localization of phytochemicals in given plant materials. Different tests can be applied for the detection of different types phytochemicals. Also, multiple tests can be performed to detect one specific phytochemical for validation purposes (Table 1).

Table 1. Qualitative Tests for Different Types of Phytochemicals

Phytochemical Type Test Name
Alkaloids Mayer’s test
Wagner’s test
Dragendroff’s test
Hager’s test
Carbohydrates Molish’s test
Fehling’s test
Barfoed’s test
Benedict’s test
Borntrager’s test
Legal’s test
Saponins Froth test
Foam test
Proteins and amino acids Millon’s test
Biuret test
Ninhydrin test
Xanthoproteic test
Flavonoids Alkaline reagent test
Lead acetate test
Magnesium and hydrochloric acid reduction
Phytosterols Libermann-Burchard’s test
Salkowski’s test
Phenols Ferric Chloride test
Tannins Gelatin test
Diterpenes Copper acetate test

Quantitative analysis methods

  • Chromatography. Chromatography can be used for both qualitative and quantitative analysis. We provide multiple chromatography services for the characterization of phytochemicals:
    • Gas Chromatography (GC)
    • Liquid Chromatography (LC)
    • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
    • High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC)
    • Optimum Performance Laminar Chromatography (OPLC)
  • Ultraviolet (UV) Spectroscopy. Allows accurate measurement of target phytochemicals’ concentrations.
  • Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy. Allows determination of the functional groups present in the sample, and is usually applied for the identification of phytochemicals.
  • Mass Spectroscopy (MS). Provides both biochemical and structural information of the phytochemicals present in the sample, which ensures accurate identification of target phytochemicals.
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy. Provides both chemical physical information of the phytochemicals been detected.
  • X-Ray Crystallography. Provides accurate molecular structures that reflect the identities of specific phytochemicals.

As a predominant plant biotechnology company with years of experience in plant-related analyses, Lifeasible proudly provides our customers worldwide with broad choices of methods, optimized protocols, as well as the most advanced technologies and experimental facilities. Moreover, our excellent scientists and experts will work closely with you through every step of your project, offering intellectual and technical support from sample collection to data interpretation.