Characterization of bioactive secondary metabolites in native plants 

  • Extraction and analysis of plant phenolics 

  • Bioactivity of phenolic acids and potential uses in health care 









Plants produce a wide range of secondary metabolites that have commercial value in the textile, food, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries due to their diverse chemical properties. My group is currently focusing on the extraction and analysis of plant phenolic acids, a group of biologically active plant secondary metabolites (Figure 1) known for their anti-microbial, anti-tumor, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.   We are mainly interested in extracting and analyzing the phenolic acid profile of plants native to the UAE.  This because it is fascinating how these plants are naturally supported in the desert; an ecosystem known for its harsh environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, drought, poor soil).   It is likely that these plants produce a diverse array of secondary metabolites that enable the establishment of their ecological range in the dessert.  For example, the ability of dessert plants to acquire biologically available forms of nitrogen is most likely mediated by allelopathic plant exudates that are chemically 'selective' for the establishment of a nitrogen fixing microbial population to support them.  The objective of this research is to identify phenolic acid mixtures from plants and evaluate them for commercial application in health related industries. 

Figure 1. Hydroxylation and/or  methylation of benzoic acid (R1-R4 = H) (left) or cinnamic acid (R1-R4 = H) (right) produces a diverse range of phenolic acids. 


Students involved: 

Saeed AlKhoori,  MSc  2017

Samar Al Jitan, MSc 2017



Al Jitan, s., Alkhoori, S.A., Yousef, L.F. (2018). Phenolic acids from plants: extraction and application to human health. In: Studies in Natural Products Chemistry, 58; 389-417.  link


Al Jitan, S. A., AlKhoori, S., Ochsenkühn, M., Amin, S. A., & Yousef, L. F. (2018). Ethanol/water extracts from halophyte species Arthrocnemum macrostachyum and Tetraena qatarensis. Cogent Chemistry, Accepted manuscript, 1536311. link

Microbiology Research Lab

Microbiology Research Lab