A virtual lab hosted by IIT Kharagpur is the first of its kind in India that lets students operate an instrument to analyse the structure of plant compounds through remote access via computers thereby countering the challenge of access to the method in many colleges.
The 'Plant Secondary Metabolites Virtual Lab' deals with secondary metabolites, the largest group of compounds produced by plants and credited with a multitude of functions in plant growth and development. Alkaloids, nicotine and cocaine are examples of such substances.
The procedure deployed to understand them, called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), is an analytical chemistry technique to separate, identify and quantify each component in a mixture. HPLC is routinely used for profiling compounds and helps in identification as well as isolation of compounds from plant extracts.
This method is also a component of the analysis for post-graduate and research students. Cur