Metabolomics analysis and biological investigation of three Malvaceae plants

Phytochem Anal. 2020 Mar;31(2):204-214. doi: 10.1002/pca.2883. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


Introduction: Metabolomics is a fast growing technology that has effectively contributed to many plant-related sciences and drug discovery.

Objective: To use the non-targeted metabolomics approach to investigate the chemical profiles of three Malvaceae plants, namely Hibiscus mutabilis L. (Changing rose), H. schizopetalus (Dyer) Hook.f. (Coral Hibiscus), and Malvaviscus arboreus Cav. (Sleeping Hibiscus), along with evaluating their antioxidant and anti-infective potential.

Methodology: Metabolic profiling was carried out using liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (LC-HR-ESI-MS) for dereplication purposes. The chemical composition of the studied plants was further compared by principal component analysis (PCA). The antioxidant and anti-infective properties of their different extracts were correlated to their phytochemical profiles by orthogonal partial least square discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA).

Results: A variety of structurally different metabolites, mostly phenolics, were characterized. Comparing the distribution pattern of these tentatively identified metabolites among the studied plant species/fractions revealed the chemical uniqueness of the dichloromethane fraction of M. arboreus. Some extracts and fractions of these plants demonstrated noteworthy antioxidant and antitrypanosomal potential; the latter was partly attributed to their anti-protease activities. The active principles of these plants were pinpointed before any laborious isolation steps, to avoid the redundant isolation of previously known compounds.

Conclusion: This study highlighted the use of the established procedure in exploring the metabolomes of these species, which could be helpful for chemotaxonomic and authentication purposes, and might expand the basis for their future phytochemical analysis. Coupling the observed biological potential with LC-MS data has also accelerated the tracing of their bioactive principles.

Keywords: Hibiscus; LC-MS; Malvaceae; Malvaviscus; anti-infective; antioxidant; metabolomics.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Malvaceae*
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts

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