, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 518–528 | Cite as

Polyphenolics in Rhizophora mangle L. leaves and their changes during leaf development and senescence

  • F. E. Kandil
  • M. H. Grace
  • D. S. Seigler
  • J. M. Cheeseman
Original Article


The chemical defenses in Rhizophora mangle L. are largely carbon based. The family has long been exploited for the high proanthocyanidin (condensed tannin) content of its wood, bark and leaves. In this paper, we quantify the overall pools of plant phenolics in R. mangle leaves, identify the major constituents of these pools and document their changes during leaf maturation and senescence. Overall, polyphenolics account for approximately 23% of the total leaf dry weight. The leaves contain at least seven flavonoid glycosides, five of them based on quercetin. Additional minor constituents are myricetin and kaempferol diglucosides. The aglycone, quercetin, was found only in senescing leaves. Also during senescence, a new compound, 5,4′-dimethoxy-7,3′,5′-trihydroxyflavone, appeared. The flavonoids were accompanied by a complex mixture of condensed tannins based mainly on (+)-catechin and (−)-epicatechin with A-type and B-type linkages; this pool is also distinguished by having previously unreported, high contributions of (+)-catechin and (−)-epicatechin glycosides. During senescence, but prior to leaf abscission, the polyphenolic pools become simplified: flavonol glycosides and low oligomeric tannins largely disappear, leaving only the largest tannin polymers. The ecological and physiological significance of these compounds as they appear in R. mangle is discussed.


Flavonoids Quercetin glycosides Condensed tannins Proanthocyanidin glycosides 5,4′-Dimethoxy-7,3′,5′-trihydroxyflavone 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 99-81309 from the Biocomplexity Initiative. Additional support was provided through an NSF traineeship in the Integrative Photosynthesis Research Training Program (DBI 96-02240) to F.E.K. We would like to thank Klaus Rützler, Candy Feller and the Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem project for logistic arrangements and access to facilities at Carrie Bow Caye. This is contribution number 677 from the CCRE program. The University of Illinois Environmental Council provided support for undergraduate assistants through its Special Undergraduate Research for the Environment (SURE) program, and we thank those students, Katy Heath and Ian Pearse, for their assistance with collections and extractions of the leaf material, and for carrying out the UV–VIS analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. E. Kandil
    • 1
  • M. H. Grace
    • 2
  • D. S. Seigler
    • 1
  • J. M. Cheeseman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Chemistry of Natural and Microbial Products DepartmentNational Research CenterCairoEgypt

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