Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 57–64 | Cite as

Variation of Phlorotannins Among Three Populations of Fucus vesiculosus as Revealed by HPLC and Colorimetric Quantification

  • R. KoivikkoEmail author
  • J. K. Eränen
  • J. Loponen
  • V. Jormalainen


In ecological studies, phlorotannins have conventionally been quantified as a group with similar functionality. Since this group consists of oligo- and polymers, the quantification of their pooled contents alone may not sufficiently describe the variation of these metabolites. Genetic variation, plastic responses to environment, and the ecological functions of separate phlorotannin oligo- and polymers may differ. Two analyses, i.e., the colorimetric Folin–Ciocalteu assay and a normal-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method were used to study genetic and environmental variation in phlorotannins of the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus (L.). The colorimetric method provides the total phlorotannin content, the latter a profile of 14 separate traces from the phenolic extract that represent an individual or groups of phlorotannins. We reared the algae that originated from three separate populations in a common garden for 3 months under ambient and enriched-nutrient availability and found that they differed in both their total phlorotannin content and in phlorotannin profiles. Some individual traces of the profiles separated the populations more clearly than the colorimetric assay. Although nutrient enrichment decreased total phlorotannin content, it did not show a significant influence on the phlorotannin profile. This implies that plastic responses of compounds other than phlorotannins may interfere with the determination of total phlorotannins. However, the phlorotannin profile and the total content showed genetic variation among local populations of F. vesiculosus; therefore, phlorotannins may respond to natural selection and evolve both quantitatively and qualitatively.


Brown algae Common garden Folin–Ciocalteu High-performance liquid chromatography Phenolic compounds 



For financial support, we are grateful to the Academy of Finland (project no. 53832 and research fellowship to VJ) and the Maj and Tor Nessling foundation. We thank T. Honkanen, M. Lindqvist, and O. Vesakoski for their help in the work. K. O’Brien kindly checked the language.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Koivikko
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. K. Eränen
    • 1
  • J. Loponen
    • 2
  • V. Jormalainen
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.The Laboratory of Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Department of ChemistryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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