A critical review of analytical methods used for the chemical characterisation and quantification of phlorotannin compounds in brown seaweeds

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Phlorotannins, the phenolic compounds found in brown seaweeds, are a unique and diverse class of compounds showing a huge potential for food and pharmaceutical applications.

This review will give an account of the colorimetric assays used and a discussion of their quantitative and qualitative analytical shortcomings. It will also discuss other more complex and modern analytical chemistry methods that are currently being developed to study phlorotannins. The purpose of this review is to increase awareness of these bioactive compounds and promote further development of robust analytical methods for use in biology, food science, pharmacology and biomedical and cosmeceutical sciences.

Whilst the biological activity and huge commercial potential of the phlorotannins has been widely reported throughout the literature, the chemical structures and reactivity of these compounds is still not well understood. The phlorotannin content of seaweed is usually characterised using colorimetric assays. However, although these methods give a reasonable overall estimation of the total phenolic content, they lack precision and specificity.

This review highlights the strengths and weaknesses of commonly used colorimetric assays. Novel techniques are highlighted using more selective chemistry to identify this class of compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalPhytochemical Analysis
Early online date28 Jun 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 28 Jun 2019


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