Microbial natural products (NP) cover a high chemical diversity, and in consequence extracts from microorganisms are often complex to analyze and purify. A distribution analysis of calculated pK(a) values from the 34390 records in Antibase2008 revealed that within pH 2-11, 44% of all included compounds had an acidic functionality, 17% a basic functionality, and 9% both. This showed a great potential for using ion-exchange chromatography as an integral part of the separation procedure, orthogonal to the classic reversed-phase strategy. Thus, we investigated the use of an "explorative solid-phase extraction" (E-SPE) protocol using SAX, Oasis MAX, SCX, and LH-20 columns for targeted exploitation of chemical functionalities. E-SPE provides a minimum of fractions (15) for chemical and biological analyses and implicates development into a preparative scale methodology. Overall, this allows fast extract prioritization, easier dereplication, mapping of biological activities, and formulation of a purification strategy.
Journal of Natural Products, 2010, Vol 73, Issue 6, p. 1126-1132