Author(s): Shawna L MacKinnon, David Hiltz, Raul Ugarte, Cheryl A Craft
Beneficial effects of seaweeds and their extracts on crop performance have been attributed to a variety of compounds, including the betaines which are quaternary ammonium betaines. Methods of analysis of betaines published thus far suffer from low sensitivity, lack of baseline separation of individual betaines and from interference from other sample constituents. A rapid cleanup protocol and a sensitive LC-MS/MS method of analysis were developed to afford baseline separation of four betaines in the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum and its commercial seaweed extract. Using this method, the presence of glycine betaine, δ-aminovaleric acid betaine, γ-aminobutyric acid betaine and laminine in A. nodosum, and commercial extracts derived from A. nodosum, were confirmed and quantified. The major betaine present was γ-aminobutyric acid betaine accounting for 0.008–0.014% of the dry weight of the seaweed and 0.014–0.027% of the dry weight of the commercial extracts. Seasonal variation in betaine content was observed. Differences in the total betaine content were observed between A. nodosum of the yellow (0.011–0.017% dry weight) and the olive green (0.017–0.021% dry weight) coloured morphologies.