Identification of variety-specific metabolites of basil by high performance thin layer chromatography-assisted metabolic profiling techniques

Windi Putri Wulandari, Yongran Ji, Özlem Erol*, Young Hae Choi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The technological advances of analytical instrumentation and techniques has laid the ground for the rapid expansion of metabolomics or in a wider sense, untargeted analysis applied to life sciences themes. However, the objective of identifying all existing metabolites within organisms remains a daunting challenge. All analytical techniques exhibit varying degrees of sensitivity and versatility for the detection of metabolites and none of the existing analytical platforms can be expected to be ideal for exhaustive chemical profiling. Planar liquid chromatography, and in particular, high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC), has been used for chemical profiling of natural products in conjunction with metabolomics. HPTLC has specific advantages which include its ability to generate reliable chemical fingerprinting data and facilitate preparative work for metabolite isolation during later stages of metabolomics analysis. In this study, we investigated the chemical profiles of four commercially available basil cultivars, namely Dolly, Emily, Keira, and Rosie. We used HPTLC as the primary analytical tool for the separation of basil cultivars based on detected metabolites, and then compared the results with those obtained with other analytical platforms. We identified the characteristic marker compounds of each basil cultivar from the HPTLC plates and validated their potential using LC-MS and GC-MS analyses as a metabolomics tool. Firstly, we compared the HPTLC data of the four cultivars, obtained with two systems that used silica gel 60 and two mobile phases composed of toluene-EtOAc (8:2, v/v) and EtOAc-formic acid-acetic acid-water (100:11:11:27, v/v), with 1H NMR data to evaluate their separation power. Despite providing lower resolution and detecting fewer compounds, the HPTLC separation power was comparable, and in some cases even better than that of 1H NMR. Additionally, we investigated the potential of HPTLC as a tool for chemical fingerprinting and demonstrated its suitability for preparative purposes that are essential for identifying metabolites in mixture analysis. Metabolites were easily isolated from sample mixtures, and identified with the assistance of GC-MS, LC-MS, and TLC-densitometry. Several marker compounds were thus identified, including 2,4 di-tertbutylphenol, palmitic acid, hexadecanamide, 9-octadecenamide, squalene, hentriacontane, methyl 3-(3,5-ditert‑butyl‑4-hydroxyphenyl)propanoic acid, sagerinic acid, and cyanidin-3-O-sophoroside.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464425
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023


  • Chemical profiling
  • Mass spectrometry
  • NMR
  • Ocimum basilicum


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