Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 533–543 | Cite as

Chemical characterization and quantification of the brown algal storage compound laminarin — A new methodological approach

  • Angelika Graiff
  • Wolfgang Ruth
  • Udo Kragl
  • Ulf Karsten


The polysaccharide laminarin (β-1,3-glucan) is used as a long-term carbon storage compound in brown algae. This chemical storage form of carbon enables perennial brown algae in seasonally fluctuating ecosystems to uncouple growth from photosynthesis, i.e., most of these plants grow as seasonal anticipators in winter based on remobilization of laminarin, while in summer, growth typically ceased to fill up the storage pool. Because of this high ecological relevance, a reliable and precise method for determination and quantification of laminarin is needed. Therefore, a simple, efficient, cold water extraction method coupled to a new quantitative liquid chromatography-mass spectrometrical method (LC-MS) was developed. Laminarin was determined in 9 out of 12 brown algal species, and its expected typical molar mass distribution of 2000–7000 Da was confirmed. Furthermore, laminarin consisted of a complex mixture of different chemical forms, since 15 chemical laminarin species with distinct molecular weights were measured in 9 species of brown algae. Differences in chain length and number of laminarin species seem to be species specific and hence may indicate some chemotaxonomic value. Laminarin concentrations in the algal tissues ranged from 0.03 to 0.86 % dry weight (DW). The direct chemical characterization and quantification of laminarin by LC-MS represents a powerful method to verify the biochemical and ecological importance of laminarin for brown algae.


Kelps LC-MS Mannitol Seasonal growth Carbon storage 



We gratefully thank Udo Nitschke and Andreas Wagner for collection and provision of the algal material, and Juliane Müller and Henrike Pfefferkorn for their invaluable help in the lab. This research was funded by the Project BIOACID Phase II of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; FKZ 03F0655L).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelika Graiff
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Ruth
    • 2
  • Udo Kragl
    • 2
  • Ulf Karsten
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Sciences, Applied Ecology and PhycologyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Chemistry, Analytical and Technical ChemistryUniversity of RostockRostockGermany

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