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The optimal extraction and stability of atranorin from lichens, in relation to solvent and pH

  • Carlo VOS (a1), Phillip MCKINNEY (a2), Colby PEARSON (a1), Erik HEINY (a3), Gamini GUNAWARDENA (a2) and Emily A. HOLT...
Abstract

Atranorin is a secondary metabolite found in many lichens. This compound can act as a photo-buffer, supporting its use as a marker of metabolic response to changes in light. In preliminary trials, atranorin was found to be unstable over time when in solution, potentially precluding its usefulness in this capacity. The present study tests the stability of atranorin in different extraction solvents and at different pH values over time using HPLC analysis. We found that atranorin is most stable in acetonitrile, among six tested solvents, and that the presence of strong acid or a strong base destabilizes the compound. We propose that atranorin breaks down through transesterification in methanol and ethanol until an equilibrium is reached, while a strong base breaks down atranorin through saponification and under acidic conditions, atranorin concentration significantly increases with time. Although atranorin levels were found to be stable in whole thallus extracts from fresh lichens using a leaching method, chemicals isolated using chromatographic separation showed similar breakdown to an atranorin standard. In future work on lichens atranorin should be extracted in acetonitrile or acetone without an added base or acid to yield the greatest stability and thus provide more accurate concentration values of atranorin with time using HPLC. The interactions of atranorin with acid and with chloroform need further study.

Copyright
Corresponding author
(corresponding author): Email: emily.holt@unco.edu
(current address): School of Biological Sciences, 501 20th Street, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado, USA
References
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