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Doctoral defence of Olufunmilayo Omolara Mofikoya, MSc, 19.12.2022: Chemical fingerprinting of conifer needle extracts by ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry

The doctoral dissertation in the field of Chemistry will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry, Joensuu Campus.

What is the topic of your doctoral research? Why is it important to study the topic?

Molecular level characterization of extractives obtained from conifer tree needles with high-resolution mass spectrometry. Many successful medications currently in use have been derived from nature, particularly plants. Plant extracts are a rich source of bioactive substances (called extractives) and provide health benefits beyond their essential nutritional value. They have been used extensively in different cosmetics, techno-chemical of food (dietary) applications. Properties of these extracts can be attributed to their complex chemical compositions. By using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we have widened our knowledge on the rich chemistry of extracts obtained from the major conifer trees found in Finland.

What are the key findings or observations of your doctoral research?

This study has shown the tremendous molecular complexity of the needle extracts and essential oils as we were able to detect between 1,500 and 3,000 compounds in the samples. This is about ten times more than detected in the previous studies. About 200 of them were further tentatively identified. Some of them could find use as precursors for efficient drugs or other medication products, for example, antifungal or antimicrobial formulations. Our results are important to design more selective extraction methods for a specific compound recovery from conifer tree needles for aforementioned applications.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

The potential of tree needle extracts could be tested, for example, in different pharmaceutical or cosmetics formulations.

What are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

Production of essential oils, solvent extracts and hydrothermal extracts from conifer tree needles using hydrodistillation, solvent extraction and pressurized hot water extraction. Analysis of extracts' chemical compositions by ultrahigh-resolution FT-ICR mass spectrometry, which is a unique technique in Finland.

The doctoral dissertation of Olufunmilayo Omolara Mofikoya, MSc, entitled Chemical Fingerprinting of Conifer Needle Extracts by Ultrahigh-Resolution Mass Spectrometry will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry. The Opponent will be Professor Carlos Cordeiro, University of Lisbon, Portugal, and the Custos will be Professor Juha Rouvinen, University of Eastern Finland. Language of the public defence is English.

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