Mass-spectrometric determination of phyllobilins in leaves of medicinal plants and their application forms

ISHS Secretariat
Mass-spectrometric determination of phyllobilins in leaves of medicinal plants and their application forms

In the Laboratory for Flavours and Metabolites of the Laimburg Research Centre (Autonomous Province of Bolzano, Italy), our working group is investigating the degradation products of chlorophyll in methanolic extracts of plant leaves and peels of apple fruits. These so-called phyllobilins (PB) are studied using high resolution mass-spectrometry in an untargeted approach, after previously monitoring the content of chlorophyll and its decreasing in the samples using Ultra-Violet/Visual-spectrophotometry. The degradation of chlorophyll in higher plants is needed to avoid the accumulation of phototoxic reaction products within the plant. Once the strictly conserved degradation pathway, including all of its contributing enzymes, was clarified, it was evident that the resulting end-products could no longer be considered as simple ‘waste’ products. So far, plant matrices, such as apple peels and green as well as senescent leaves of medicinal plant species (e.g., Echinacea purpurea L. Moench, Urtica dioica L., Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) from different plant families have been screened. The focus is now detection of a special type of PB in medicinal plants, which was discovered to show bioactivity and has a remarkable biosimilarity to heme degradation products. A comparison of PB quantity in different pharmacognostic relevant plant species would be helpful for further application for human patients. In addition to the agronomic application of PB for ripening determination of apples (i.e., Malus domestica Borkh. ‘Gala’), we seek to determine the relatedness of species within the same plant family by means of similarities in the PB pattern..

Lisa Marie Gorfer won the ISHS Young Minds Award for the best oral presentation at the International Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: Domestication, Breeding, Cultivation and New Perspectives at IHC2022 in France in August 2022.

Lisa Marie Gorfer, Laimburg Research Centre, Laimburg 6 – Pfatten (Vadena), 39040 Auer (Ora), BZ, Italy, e-mail:

The article is available in Chronica Horticulturae

Young Minds Award Winners