Tony Swain (chemist)

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Tony Swain (1922–1987) [1] was a chemist known for his definition of a plant polyphenol with Bate-Smith, Haslam and White, which includes specific structural characteristics common to all phenolics having a tanning property. [2] It is referred to as the White–Bate-Smith–Swain–Haslam (WBSSH) definition. [3]

Polyphenol class of chemical compounds

Polyphenols are a structural class of mainly natural, but also synthetic or semisynthetic, organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units. The number and characteristics of these phenol structures underlie the unique physical, chemical, and biological properties of particular members of the class. Examples include tannic acid and ellagitannin. The historically important chemical class of tannins is a subset of the polyphenols.

Edgar Charles Bate-Smith (1900-1989) was an English chemist and phytochemist specialising in food chemistry. He worked in the Low Temperature Research Station in Cambridge where his main fields of research were meat and polyphenols.

Edwin Haslam was an organic chemist and an author of books on polyphenols. He was an alumnus of Sir John Deane's College in Northwich, Cheshire, United Kingdom and was for many years Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Sheffield.

The discovery in 1943 by Martin and Synge of paper chromatography provided for the first time the means of surveying the phenolic constituents of plants and for their separation and identification. There was an explosion of activity in this field after 1945, none more so than that of Bate-Smith and Tony Swain. [2] He worked with Edgar C. Bate-Smith at Cambridge University.

Paper chromatography

Paper chromatography is an analytical method used to separate colored chemicals or substances. It is primarily used as a teaching tool, having been replaced by other chromatography methods, such as thin-layer chromatography. A paper chromatography variant, two-dimensional chromatography involves using two solvents and rotating the paper 90° in between. This is useful for separating complex mixtures of compounds having similar polarity, for example, amino acids. The setup has three components. The mobile phase is a solution that travels up the stationary phase, due to capillary action. The mobile phase is generally mixture of polar organic solvent with water, while the stationary phase is water. Paper is used to support stationary phase (water). Difference between TLC and paper chromatography is that stationary phase in TLC is a layer of adsorbent, and stationary phase in paper chromatography is water.

Tony Swain was one of the first editors of Phytochemistry with Jeffrey Harborne. [4] He started the sister journal Biochemical Systematics in 1973, renamed Biochemical Systematics and Ecology in the next year.

Phytochemistry is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering pure and applied plant chemistry, plant biochemistry and molecular biology. It is published by Elsevier and is an official publication for the Phytochemical Society of Europe and the Phytochemical Society of North America.

Jeffrey Barry Harborne FRS was a British chemist who specialised in phytochemistry. He was Professor of Botany at the University of Reading, 1976–93, then Professor emeritus. He contributed to more than 40 books and 270 research papers and was a pioneer in ecological biochemistry, particularly in the complex chemical interactions between plants, microbes and insects.

Biochemical Systematics and Ecology is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering chemotaxonomy and ecology. Tony Swain, one of the first editors of Phytochemistry started the sister journal Biochemical Systematics in 1973, which was renamed Biochemical Systematics and Ecology in the next year.


Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

In computing, a Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to uniquely identify objects, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.

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Tannin class of astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic chemical compounds

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<i>Rhodiola rosea</i> species of plant

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Tyrosinase protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Tyrosinase is an oxidase that is the rate-limiting enzyme for controlling the production of melanin. The enzyme is mainly involved in two distinct reactions of melanin synthesis; firstly, the hydroxylation of a monophenol and secondly, the conversion of an o-diphenol to the corresponding o-quinone. o-Quinone undergoes several reactions to eventually form melanin. Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme present in plant and animal tissues that catalyzes the production of melanin and other pigments from tyrosine by oxidation, as in the blackening of a peeled or sliced potato exposed to air. It is found inside melanosomes which are synthesised in the skin melanocytes. In humans, the tyrosinase enzyme is encoded by the TYR gene.

Chlorogenic acid

Chlorogenic acid (CGA) is the ester of caffeic acid and (−)-quinic acid, functioning as an intermediate in lignin biosynthesis. The term "chlorogenic acids" refers to a related polyphenol family of esters, including hydroxycinnamic acids with quinic acid.

Rosmarinic acid chemical compound

Rosmarinic acid is a chemical compound found in a variety of plants.

Thearubigins are polymeric polyphenols that are formed during the enzymatic oxidation and condensation of two gallocatechins with the participation of polyphenol oxidases during the fermentation reactions in black tea. Thearubigins are red in colour and are responsible for much of the staining effect of tea. Therefore, a black tea often appears red while a green or white tea has a much clearer appearance. The colour of a black tea, however, is affected by many other factors as well, such as the amount of theaflavins, another oxidized form of polyphenols.

Polyphenol oxidase is a tetramer that contains four atoms of copper per molecule, and binding sites for two aromatic compounds and oxygen. The enzyme catalyses the o-hydroxylation of monophenol molecules in which the benzene ring contains a single hydroxyl substituent to o-diphenols. It can also further catalyse the oxidation of o-diphenols to produce o-quinones.

2,3-Dihydroxybenzoic acid is a natural phenol found in Phyllanthus acidus and in the aquatic fern Salvinia molesta. It is also abundant in the fruits of Flacourtia inermis. It is a dihydroxybenzoic acid, a type of organic compound. The colorless solid occurs naturally, being formed via the shikimate pathway. It is incorporated into various siderophores, which are molecules that strongly complex iron ions for absorption into bacteria. 2,3-DHB consists of a catechol group, which upon deprotonation binds iron centers very strongly, and the carboxylic acid group by which the ring attaches to various scaffolds through amide bonds. A famous high affinity siderophore is enterochelin, which contains three dihydroxybenzoyl substituents linked to the depsipeptide of serine.

Evoxine chemical compound

Evoxine (haploperine) is a furoquinoline alkaloid with hypnotic and sedative effects. It is found naturally in a variety of Australian and African plants including Evodia xanthoxyloides and Teclea gerrardii.

Phlorizin chemical compound

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Tellimagrandin II chemical compound

Tellimagrandin II is the first of the ellagitannins formed from 1,2,3,4,6-pentagalloyl-glucose. It can be found in Geum japonicum and Syzygium aromaticum (clove).

Naturally occurring phenols

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<i>Ferula communis</i> species of plant

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Pallidol chemical compound

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Dihydroisocoumarins are phenolic compounds related to isocoumarin. Dihydroisocoumarin glucosides can be found in Caryocar glabrum.

Phenylethanoid class of chemical compound

Phenylethanoids are a type of phenolic compounds characterized by a phenethyl alcohol structure. Tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol are examples of such compounds.


  1. Smith, A (1988). "Tony Swain 1922-1987". Phytochemistry. 27 (8): 2373–2374. doi:10.1016/0031-9422(88)87002-X.
  2. 1 2 Haslam, Edwin (2007). "Vegetable tannins – Lessons of a phytochemical lifetime". Phytochemistry. 68 (22–24): 2713–2721. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.09.009. PMID   18037145.
  3. Why bother with Polyphenols, by Stéphane Quideau, on Groupe Polyphenols website [ self-published source? ]
  4. Phytochemistry and pharmacognosy. J. David Phillipson, Phytochemistry, November–December 2007, Volume 68, Issues 22–24, pages 2960–2972, doi : 10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.06.028