Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of Geranium macrorrhizum in relation to ploidy level and environmental conditions

Abstract

Geranium macrorrhizum is an aromatic plant native to the Southern Alps and the Balkan Peninsula. In Europe, it is increasingly cultivated for its ornamental flowers, as well as for use in aromatherapy and traditional herbal medicine due to its broad spectrum of biological activities. Essential oil of G. macrorrhizum is highly valued in perfumery and is also used as a food-flavouring agent. In this work, we report the essential oil composition, total phenolics and antioxidant activity of several samples of G. macrorrhizum collected from natural habitats in Croatia (Mt Biokovo) and Greece (Mt Smolikas, Mt Olimbos and Mt Giona). Some of these samples were cultivated in the greenhouse or botanical gardens at separate locations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo), France (Orsay) and Denmark (Copenhagen). Since the plant samples had different cytotypes, a possible correlation between ploidy level, phenolic content and antioxidant activity was examined in this study. It was found that the total phenolic content, as well as the radical scavenging activity of residual water remaining after hydrodistillation of G. macrorrhizum, is related to the plant ploidy level. The essential oil composition, however, clearly depends on environmental factors. The main components of almost all essential oils of cultivated plants were oxygenated sesquiterpenes with germacrone as the most abundant compound (34.7–62.9%), while essential oil of plants growing wild was rich in long-chain alkanes (27.0–40.0%).

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. ME Solic (Institute ‘Planina i more’, Makarska, Croatia) for her assistance in the collection of material on Mount Biokovo, as well as L. Saunois and A. Dubois, on the one hand, and S. Abadzic, on the other hand, for their help in the greenhouse (University Paris-Sud) and in the botanical garden cultures (Museum of Natural Sciences, Sarajevo), respectively. We also thank the reviewers whose comments and suggestions have improved the manuscript. This work was supported by project No. RO0418 (sustainable systems and technologies, improving crop production for higher quality of production of food, feed, and raw materials, under conditions of changing climate) funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Czech Republic.

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Correspondence to Milka Maksimović.

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Ćavar Zeljković, S., Siljak-Yakovlev, S., Tan, K. et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant activity of Geranium macrorrhizum in relation to ploidy level and environmental conditions. Plant Syst Evol 306, 18 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-020-01649-9

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Keywords

  • Antioxidant activity
  • Balkan Peninsula
  • Essential oil
  • Geranium macrorrhizum
  • Ploidy level
  • Total phenolics