Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 665–671 | Cite as

Liquid seaweed extracts identified using 1H NMR profiles

  • James S. CraigieEmail author
  • Shawna L. MacKinnon
  • John A. Walter


Aqueous extracts of Ascophyllum nodosum and several other brown seaweeds are manufactured commercially and widely distributed for use on agricultural crops. The increasingly regulated international trade in such products requires that they be standardized and defined to a degree not previously required. We examined commercially available extracts using quantitative 1H NMR and principal components analysis (PCA) techniques. Extracts manufactured over a 4-year period using the same process exhibited characteristic profiles that, on PCA, clustered as a discrete group distinct from the other commercial products examined. In addition to recognizing extracts made from different seaweeds, analysis of the 1H spectra in the 0.35–4.70 ppm region allowed us to distinguish amongst extracts produced from the same algal species by different manufacturers. This result established that the process used to make an extract is an important variable in defining its composition. A comparison of the 1H NMR integrals for the regions 1.0–3.0 ppm and 3.0–4.38 ppm revealed small but significant changes in the A. nodosum spectra that we attribute to seasonal variation in gross composition of the harvested seaweed. Such changes are reflected in the PCA scores plots and contribute to the scatter observed within the data point cluster observed for Acadian soluble extracts when all data are pooled. Quantitative analysis using 1H NMR (qNMR) with a certified external standard (caffeine) showed a linear relationship with extract concentration over at least an order of magnitude (2.5–33 mg/mL; R 2 > 0.97) for both spectral regions integrated. We conclude that qNMR can be used to profile (or “fingerprint”) commercial seaweed extracts and to quantify the amount of extract present relative to a suitably chosen standard.


Ascophyllum nodosum Brown algae Nuclear magnetic resonance spectra Quantitative NMR Standards 



Principal components analysis


Quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy


Sodium 3-trimethylsilylpropionate-2,2,3,3-d4



We thank Ian Burton, who was most helpful in conducting the qNMR experiments. We appreciate the valuable discussion and comments of Alan Critchley, Tobias Karakach, Jeff Norrie and Kirty Solanky.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Craigie
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shawna L. MacKinnon
    • 2
  • John A. Walter
    • 2
  1. 1.Acadian Seaplants LimitedDartmouthCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council of CanadaHalifaxCanada

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