Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 761–778

LIMITATIONS OF FOLIN ASSAYS OF FOLIAR PHENOLICS IN ECOLOGICAL STUDIES

  • Heidi M. Appel
  • Heather L. Govenor
  • Mark D'Ascenzo
  • Erin Siska
  • Jack C. Schultz
Article

Abstract

We examined the response of the widely used Folin-Denis assay to purified tannins from 16 woody plant species and to three commercial polyphenol preparations often used as standards. The reagent's response to these chemical mixtures differed significantly among sources (tree species, commercial preparations) and sampling dates, even though the mixtures contained the same total dry weight of tannins. Response to commercial standards usually did not resemble response to actual plant tannin and produced estimates that differed from actual concentrations by as much as twofold. Species-based and seasonal differences in polyphenol composition are evidently responsible for these variable results. Reagents that depend on redox reactions, such as the Folin-Denis, do not produce reliable absolute or relative quantification of phenolics when different species or samples from different dates are compared, and use of commercial standards does not resolve this problem.

Phenolics tannins polyphenols Folin-Denis assay plant allocation theory 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi M. Appel
    • 1
  • Heather L. Govenor
    • 2
  • Mark D'Ascenzo
    • 3
  • Erin Siska
    • 4
  • Jack C. Schultz
    • 1
  1. 1.Pesticide Research LabThe Pennsylvania State University
  2. 2.Baker Environmental, Inc.Coraopolis
  3. 3.Boyce Thompson InstituteIthaca
  4. 4.Department of BiologySonoma State UniversityRohnert Park

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