Untargeted metabolomics analysis of four date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) cultivars using MS and NMR

Shuruq Alsuhaymi, Upendra Singh, Inas Al-Younis, Najeh M. Kharbatia, Ali Haneef, Kousik Chandra, Manel Dhahri, Mohammed A. Assiri, Abdul Hamid Emwas*, Mariusz Jaremko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Since ancient times, the inhabitants of dry areas have depended on the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) as a staple food and means of economic security. For example, dates have been a staple diet for the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula and Sahara Desert in North Africa for millennia and the local culture is rich in knowledge and experience with the benefits of dates, suggesting that dates contain many substances essential for the human body. Madinah dates are considered one of the most important types of dates in the Arabian Peninsula, with Ajwa being one of the most famous types and grown only in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Date seeds are traditionally used for animal feed, seed oil production, cosmetics, and as a coffee substitute. Phytochemical compounds that have been detected in date fruits and date seeds include phenolic acids, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Phenolic acids are the most prevalent bioactive constituents that contribute to the antioxidant activity of date fruits. The bioactive properties of these phytochemicals are believed to promote human health by reducing the risk of diseases such as chronic inflammation. Ajwa dates especially are thought to have superior bioactivity properties. To investigate these claims, in this study, we compare the metabolic profiles of Ajwa with different types of dates collected from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. We show by UHPLC-MS that date seeds contain several classes of flavonoids, phenolic acids, and amino acid derivatives, including citric acid, malic acid, lactic acid, and hydroxyadipic acid. Additionally, GC–MS profiling showed that date seeds are richer in metabolite classes, such as hydrocinnamic acids (caffeic, ferulic and sinapic acids), than flesh samples. Deglet N fruit extract (minimum inhibitory concentration: 27 MIC/μM) and Sukkari fruit extract (IC50: 479 ± 0.58μg /mL) have higher levels of antibacterial and antioxidative activity than Ajwa fruits. However, the seed analysis showed that seed extracts have better bioactivity effects than fruit extracts. Specifically, Ajwa extract showed the best MIC and strongest ABTS radical-scavenging activity among examined seed extracts (minimum inhibitory concentration: 20 μM; IC50: 54 ± 3.61μg /mL). Our assays are a starting point for more advanced in vitro antibacterial models and investigation into the specific molecules that are responsible for the antioxidative and anti-bacterial activities of dates. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalNatural Products and Bioprospecting
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Kunming Institute of Botany, CAS.


  • Date palm
  • GC–MS
  • Metabolomics
  • NMR
  • Phytochemicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Food Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Plant Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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