Degradation of Amino Acids

Amino acids do not have a defined melting point. They decompose over the broad range of200-to 300°C but are comparatively stable at ambient temperature and occur as transparent or white crystals.

In the solid state, decarbonation mainly occurs when the amino acid is heated. The amino acid converts to the amine that has the same carbon number as the amino acid.

When an a-amino acid reacts with nitrous acid, it yields a-hydroxycarboxylic acid, and nitrogen gas. The amount of gas that is measured, is equivalent to the amino-nitrogen. This is the basis for the van Slyke method, used for the quantitative determination of amino acids.

When ninhydrin is added to an amino acid solution, the C02 released causes the color of the solution to turn of blue-violet called Ruhemann's purple, which has a maximum absorbency at 570 nm. This reaction is often used as a quantitative analysis of amino acids.

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