School of Biological and Chemical Sciences


Subramaniam Sotheeswaran

Subramaniam Sotheeswaran

Subramaniam Sotheeswaran, BSc (Cey), PhD, DSc (Hull) 
Professor of Organic Chemistry





Current Research Interests

Research is being conducted in the following areas of chemistry.

  1. Synthesis of Kava Lactones and Commercial Extraction of Kava Lactones in the South Pacific.
    Kava beverage (from Piper methysticum) plays an important, almost sacred, role in all the traditional ceremonies of the South Pacific Islanders. This beverage, which is prepared from the roots and also from the basal stems, shows a number of interesting biological activities due to the presence of several lactones. A programme has been set up to synthesise these lactones in collaboration with Professor Claude Spino of the Universite de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada.

    In another project, experiments are being carried out to extract the kava lactones on a commercial scale in the South Pacific and promote the sale of lactone containing kava pills or tablets which are in demand in many overseas countries. Dr Richard Beyer of the Institute of Applied Sciences and Professor Bill Aalbersberg of the University of the South Pacific are also involved in this project.

  2. Application of Fibre Optics as Chemical Sensors.
    The Fibre Optics methodology to sense copper is being developed in the South Pacific. This will be useful in monitoring copper in waste materials from copper mining. This is a collaborative research project with Dr Philomena Gangaiya of the University of the South Pacific and Dr R. Narayanaswamy of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, UK.

  3. Phytochemicals from South Pacific Medicinal Plants.
    Traditional medical practice is very popular in the South Pacific and over 500 plants are used as herbs. Phytochemicals are being extracted from some selected plants and the study is being extended to assay the extracts and pure compounds isolated for biological activity. This is a collaborative study in which two senior chemists of the University of the South Pacific, Professor Bill Aalbersberg and Dr Sadaquat Ali are involved.

  4. Biologically Active Natural Products from Marine Organisms.
    Initial study was concentrated on the water soluble saponins which are used as defense chemical agents by some marine animals. The study is being extended to analyse all the chemicals biosynthesised by a selected class of marine sponges with a view to isolating biologically active natural products. This work is being conducted in collaboration with the biologists at the University of the South Pacific. Two senior chemistry staff members collaborating in this project are Professor Bill Aalbersberg and Dr Sadaquat Ali.

  5. Biochemical Studies.
    This study concentrates on enzyme activity. Enzymes isolated are purified and kinetics data obtained to study the enzyme activity in materials such as fruits and vegetables. Reducing enzyme activity in yams and fruits are considered important in the food industry. Inhibition of enzyme activity would reduce unwanted biochemical reactions such as the browning of foods during processing and cleavage of cane sugar (sucrose) to glucose and fructose during the extraction of sugar cane juice.


Selected Publications

  1. "Enantioselective Synthesis of (+)- and (-)-Dihydrokawain". Spino, C., Mayes, N., Desfosses, H., and Sotheeswaran, S., Tetrahedron Lett., 1996, vol 37, 6503-6.
  2. "Three Prenylated Phenolic Benzophenones from Garcinia myrtifolia". Spino, C., Lal, J., Sotheeswaran, S., and Aalbersberg, W., Phytochemistry, 1995, vol. 38, No. 1, 233-236.
  3. "Benzisochromanquinones and an Isofuranonaphthoquinone from Ventilago vitiensis (Rhamnaceae)". Ali, S., Read, R.W., and Sotheeswaran, S., Phytochemistry, 1994, vol. 35, No:4, 1029-1032.
  4. "Lipids from the seeds of seven Fijian Plant species". Sotheeswaran, S., Sharif, M.R., Moreau, R.A., and Piazza, G.J., Food Chemistry, 1994, vol. 49, 11-13.
  5. "An Antimicrobial Natural Product from buabua (Fagraea gracilipes)". Ali, S., Read, R. W., and Sotheeswaran, S., Current Topics in Phytochem. (Life Sci. Adv.), 1995, vol. 14, 29-30.
  6. "Distribution of Resveratrol Oligomers in Plants". Sotheeswaran, S., and Pasupathy, V., Phytochemistry, 1993, vol. 32, No:5, 1083-1092.
  7. "Carotenoids in the Leaves of Morinda citrifolia". W.G. L. Aalbersberg, Hussein, S., Sotheeswaran, S., and Parkinson, S., 1993, J. Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants, vol. 2 (1), 51-54.
  8. "Arylpropanoids from Myristica castaneifolia (Myristicaceae)". Ali, S., Read, R.W., and Sotheeswaran, S., Aust. J. Chem., 1993, vol. 46, 1421-1424.
  9. "Bud Exudate Composition and Ecogeography of Fijian Gardenia species (Rubiaceae)". Miller, J. M., and Sotheeswaran, S., Biotropica, 1993, vol. 25, No. 1, 117-122.
  10. "Herbal Medicine - The Scientific Evidence". Sotheeswaran, S., 1992, J. Chemical Education, 1992, vol. 69, NO: 6, 444-446.
  11. "Alpha Glucosidase Activity in four varieties of Fiji Sugar Cane". Albersberg, W. G. L., Ali, N., Naidu, R., and Sotheeswaran, S., Tropical science, 1991, vol. 31, 417-420.
  12. "Triterpenoids in Bud Exudates of Fijian Gardenia species". Davies, N. W., Miller, J. M., Naidu, R., and Sotheeswaran, S., 1991, Phytochemistry, vol. 31, No: 1, 159-162.

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