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Anal Biochem. 1995 Jan 20;224(2):524-31.

Measurement of thermally produced volatile alkanes: an assay for plant hydroperoxy fatty acid evaluation.

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  • 1Centre d'Etudes de Cadarache, Département de Physiologie Végétale et Ecosystèmes, Saint Paul lez Durance, Cedex, France.


A new method designed to monitor lipid peroxidation in plants has been set up with soybean hypocotyl/radicles. The hydroperoxy fatty acids present in situ are converted by rapid thermal treatment (80 s and 210 J g-1) of the biological sample into ethane and n-pentane, which are analyzed by gas chromatography. The method has been directly calibrated by quantification of the hydroperoxy fatty acids by silica-phase HPLC analysis of their reduced hydroxy derivatives. Hypocotyl/radicles from the two soybean cultivars Argenta and Soriano were submitted to various chemical oxidative treatments and were analyzed for both thermally produced volatile alkanes and hydroperoxy fatty acid levels. Our results showed that ethane and n-pentane production are in both cases closely correlated with linolenic as well as linoleic acid hydroperoxide levels (P < 0.001). Within a given plant material, thermal conversion of both hydroperoxides into alkanes occurred with yields which were not dependent on the oxidative treatment. These yields are however functions of the biological material since in Soriano and Argenta cultivars they were around 6 and 25%, respectively. Taking into account the last point, the alkane test cannot be used to directly quantify the absolute lipid hydroperoxide levels of plant tissues but it is convenient to monitor the peroxidative phenomenon as it occurs. The assay is easy and rapid to perform (analysis of 50 samples per day) since no sample preparation is needed, and the low detection limit (20 pmol of alkane g-1) permits the analysis of small samples.

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