The periodide method for quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) analysis was modified to permit rapid screening of numerous replicate plant samples. This procedure provides a valuable tool for assessing salt tolerance. Aqueous plant extracts were used without further purification. Total QAC were precipitated as the periodide complexes at low pH. In neutral media, only choline periodide crystallized; other major QAC (e.g. glycinebetaine) were soluble at pH 6.8–7.0 QAC concentration was then determined spectrophotometrically.
The influence of oven-drying of plant material at 80°C was tested by comparing this technique to lyophilization. Since QAC values were essentially identical from both drying techniques, oven-drying was used routinely because of its economy and practicality.
The optimum range of acid concentration for precipitation of total QAC was established.