High throughput method development and optimised production of leaf protein concentrates with potential to support the agri-industry

Ajay Iyer, Lisa Guerrier, Salomé Leveque, Charles Bestwick, Sylvia Duncan, Wendy Russell* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Invasive plants ofer an interesting and unconventional source of protein and the considerable investment made towards their eradication can potentially be salvaged through their revalorisation. To identify viable sources, efective and high-throughput screening methods are required, as well as efcient procedures to isolate these components. Rigorous assessment of lowcost, high-throughput screening assays for total sugar, phenolics and protein was performed, and ninhydrin, Lever and Fast Blue assays were found to be most suitable owing to high reliability scores and false positive errors less than 1%. These assays were used to characterise invasive Scottish plants such as Gorse (Ulex europeans), Broom (Cystisus scoparius) and Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium). Protein extraction (alkali-, heat- and enzyme assisted) were tested on these plants,
and further purifcation (acid and ethanol precipitation, as well as ultrafltration) procedures were tested on Gorse, based on protein recovery values. Cellulase treatment and ethanol precipitation gave the highest protein recovery (64.0 ± 0.5%) and purity (96.8 ± 0.1%) with Gorse. The amino acid profle of the purifed protein revealed high levels of essential amino acids (34.8 ± 0.0%). Comparison of results with preceding literature revealed a strong association between amino acid profles and overall protein recovery with the extraction method employed. The fnal purity of the protein concentrates was closely associated to the protein content of the initial plant mass. Leaf protein extraction technology can efectively raise crop harvest indices, revalorise underutilised plants and waste streams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49–65
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Food Measurement and Characterization
Early online date20 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Open access via Springer agreement
Acknowledgements We would like to thank Phyllis Nicol and Fergus Nicol for their support with protein estimation assays and Teresa Grohmann for helping with manuscript preparation.
Funding This work was funded by the Scottish Government via RESAS as part of its strategic research programme.


  • Invasive plants
  • Leaf protein
  • Phenolics
  • Soluble sugars
  • Assay comparison


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