Chemistry & biodiversity

Chemical differences in volatiles between Melittis melissophyllum L. subsp. melissophyllum and subsp. albida (Guss) P. W. Ball (Lamiaceae) determined by solid-phase microextraction (SPME) coupled with GC/FID and GC/MS.

PMID 21337505


Melittis melissophyllum (Lamiaceae) is a perennial herb, typical of woody places, occurring in Italy with two subspecies, i.e., melissophyllum and albida. So far, the classification of these two taxa was only based on morphology, i.e., the presence of glandular trichomes, the dimension of the leaves, and the number of teeth on each side as the main discriminant characters. To find marker compounds to chemically discriminate the subsp. melissophyllum with respect to the subsp. albida, a solid-phase microextraction SPME analysis coupled with GC/FID (=flame ionization detector) and GC/MS was carried out. SPME proved to be a chemotaxonomically useful technique that permitted a clearly differentiation of the two subspecies at headspace level. The subsp. melissophyllum was characterized by high amount of the mushroom alcohol oct-1-en-3-ol and the phenolic coumarin, whilst the subsp. albida exhibited a high content in monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, α-pinene, sabinene, and (E)-caryophyllene being the major compounds. Multivariate chemometric techniques, such as cluster analysis (CA) and principal-component analysis (PCA), were used to support chemical data and characterize the population according to the taxonomy. In addition, the micromorphology and distribution of glandular trichomes of both subspecies were studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

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Sabinene, natural, 75%