, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 205-211

Tannin assays in ecological studies: Lack of correlation between phenolics, proanthocyanidins and protein-precipitating constituents in mature foliage of six oak species

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There is no correlation between protein-precipitating capacity and either total phenolic or proanthocyanidin content of extracts of mature foliage from six species of oaks: Quercus alba (white oak), Q. bicolor (swamp white oak), Q. macrocarpa (bur oak), Q. palustris (pin oak), Q. rubra (red oak), and Q. velutina (black oak). It is argued that studies which probe the role of tannins in the selection and utilization of food by herbivores should include a protein-precipitation assay, since such an assay provides a measure of the property of tannins which is presumed to contribute to their utility as defensive compounds. A convenient modification of the bovine serum albumin (BSA) precipitation assay, which measures the amount of protein precipitated when a plant extract is added to a BSA solution, is described. Advantages of this procedure recommend its routine adoption in studies of the role of tannins in plant-herbivore interactions.