Quantification of phytochelatins and their metal(loid) complexes: critical assessment of current analytical methodology

B. Alan Wood, Jörg Feldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Whilst there are a variety of methods available for the quantification of biothiols in sample extracts, each has their own inherent advantages and limitations. The ease with which thiols readily oxidise not only hinders their quantification but also alters the speciation profile. The challenge faced by the analyst is not only to preserve the speciation of the sample, but also to select a method which allows the retrieval of the desired information. Given that sulfur is not a chromophore and that it cannot easily be monitored by ICP-MS, a number of direct and indirect methods have been developed for this purpose. In order to assess these methods, they are compared in the context of the measurement of arsenic-phytochelatin complexes in plant extracts. The inherent instability of such complexes, along with the instabilities of reduced glutathione and phytochelatin species,necessitates a rapid and sensitive analytical protocol. Whilst being a specific example, the points raised and discussed in this review will also be applicable to the quantification of biothiols and thiol-metal(loid) species in a wide range of systems other than just the analysis of arsenic-phytochelatin species in plant extracts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3299-3309
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number10
Early online date10 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • bioanalytical methods
  • mass spectrometry/ICP-MS
  • speciation
  • biological samples
  • sulfur


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