The effect of light intensity (LI) and water availability (WA) on rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) plant growth, essential oil (EO) production and composition was investigated by a two-factorial field experiment, where the first factor was LI (100%, 50% or 25% of natural sunlight) and the second factor was WA (irrigation set at 85%, 70% or 55% of field capacity during plant growing). The EO obtained by steam distillation of the dried aerial part of the plant was analysed by GC/MS. Reduction of LI from 100 to 25% of natural sunlight markedly lowered plant biomass production, whereas reduction of WA from 85 to 55% had a smaller lowering effect on plant growth. High shading (25% of LI) markedly reduced EO yield on a plant basis (− 43%), whereas intermediate shading (50% of LI) increased EO yield as % content of the fresh biomass (+ 29%) when compared to full solar radiation. WA markedly influenced EO yield, as expressed on a plant basis, but only in plants exposed to 100% LI. Moreover, changes in LI and WA seemed to have an opposite effect on the relative abundance of EO constituents that are formed through the activity of two groups of enzymes, pinene synthases (α- and β-pinene, camphene and myrcene) and, respectively, bornyl diphosphate synthases (borneol, camphor and bornyl acetate). Accurate management of light conditions and water availability, in greenhouse as well as open field conditions, may allow to optimize rosemary EO yield and modulate EO profile in view of different potential uses.
Rosemary Terpenoids Monoterpene synthases Solar radiation Aroma Irrigation
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
The study was carried out with the financial support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and Tourism, Italy, within the project “Implementation of the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that they have no competing interests.
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.
Cervelli C, Fadelli PG, Tallone A (2001) Growth of Oreopanax capitatus and Cocculus laurifolius in different protected environments. Acta Hortic 559:91–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Conover C (1990) In: Novak J, Rudnicki RM (eds) Postharvest handling and storage of cut flowers, florist’s green and potted plants. Timber Press, PortlandGoogle Scholar
Gratani L, Covone F, Larcher W (2006) Leaf plasticity in response to light of three evergreen species of the Mediterranean maquis. Trees 20:549–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gregory PJ, Palta JA, Batts GR (1997) Root systems and root: mass ratio—carbon allocation under current and projected atmospheric conditions in arable crops. Plant Soil 187:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kozlowski TT, Pallardy SG (1997) Growth control in woody plants. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
Franz C, Novak J (2009) In: Başer KHC, Buchbauer G (eds) Handbook of essential oils: science, technology, and applications. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
Loreto F, Ciccioli P, Cecinato A et al (1996) Influence of environmental factors and air composition on the emission of [alpha]-pinene from quercus ilex leaves. Plant Physiol 110:267–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li Y, Craker LE, Potter T (1996) Effect of light level on the essential oil production of sage (Salvia officinalis) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Acta Hortic 426:419–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cingolani E (1973) Italian pharmacopoeia—8th edition. Farmaco Prat 28(11):559–584PubMedGoogle Scholar
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), NIST chemistry WebBook, NIST standard reference database number 69, 2018, available online at: http://webbook.nist.gov/chemistry. Accessed on July 2019
Hammer O, Harper D, Ryan P (2012) PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Paleontol Electron 4(art. 4):9Google Scholar
Sell C (2009) In: Başer KHC, Buchbauer G (eds) Handbook of essential oils: science, technology, and applications. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
Wise ML, Savage TJ, Katahira E, Croteau R (1998) Monoterpene synthases from common sage (Salvia officinalis) cDNA isolation, characterization, and functional expression of (+)-sabinene synthase, 1, 8-cineole synthase, and (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase. J Biol Chem 273:14891–14899. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.273.24.14891CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar