Feasibility of Extracting Solanesol from Tobacco Biomass as a Byproduct Following Protein Recovery
Lo, Y. Martin
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The solanesol content in tobacco biomass, a waste derived from tobacco leaves obtained from the low alkaloid cultivar 'MD 609LA' that had been processed for protein recovery, was evaluated at different points during processing. Solanesol, a precursor to coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin K2, is a high value compound found in significant amounts in tobacco leaves and could potentially increase the profitability of tobacco when grown at high density and harvested mechanically for nonsmoking applications. Respective solanesol yields of various extraction methods were assessed using an optimized reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) method. Solanesol was detected in the waste streams generated during tobacco protein processing, at 0.047% and 0.331% dry weight of the biomass waste and chloroplast sediment, respectively. Microwave-assisted extraction was found the most efficient extraction method in terms of solanesol yield, extraction time, and solvent usage. This research shows that the extraction of solanesol after protein recovery is a feasible operation and could increase the overall profitability of biorefining tobacco for alternative, value-added uses.