, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 952–963 | Cite as

Metabolite profiles of essential oils in citrus peels and their taxonomic implications

  • Li Jing
  • Zhentian Lei
  • Guiwei Zhang
  • Alan Cesar Pilon
  • David V. Huhman
  • Rangjin Xie
  • Wanpeng Xi
  • Zhiqin ZhouEmail author
  • Lloyd W. SumnerEmail author
Original Article


China is an important center of origin for the genus Citrus L. of the family Rutaceae and is rich in wild Citrus species. The taxonomy of Citrus has been a subject of controversy for more than a half century. We propose that the metabolite profiles of Chinese native Citrus species can be used for classification and understanding of the taxonomic relationships within the Citrus germplasm. In this study, triplicate gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) metabolite profiles of 20 Citrus species/varieties were acquired, including 10 native varieties originating in China. R-(+)-limonene, α-pinene, sabinene and α-terpinene were found to be major characteristic components of the essential oils analyzed in this study, and these compounds contributed greatly to the metabolic classification. The three basic species of the subgenus Eucitrus (Swingle’s system), i.e., C. reticulata Blanco, C. medica L. and C. grandis Osb., were clearly differentiated based upon their metabolite profiles using hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and partial least square-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA). All the presumed hybrid genotypes, including sweet orange (C. sinensis Osb.), sour orange (C. aurantium L.), lemon (C. limon Burm.f.), rough lemon (C. jambhiri Lush.), rangpur lime (C. limonia Osb.) and grapefruit (C. paradisi Macf.), were grouped closely together with one of their suggested parent species in the HCA-dendrogram and the PLS-DA score plot. These results clearly demonstrated that the metabolite profiles of Citrus species could be utilized for the taxonomic classification of the genus and are complementary to the existing taxonomic evidence, especially for the identification and differentiation of hybrid species.


Citrus L. Chinese native species Essential oils Metabolite profiling GC–MS Taxonomy 



Chloroplast DNA


Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry


Hierarchical cluster analysis


Latent variable


Mass spectrometry


Nuclear magnetic resonance


Principal component analysis


Partial least square


Partial least square-discriminant analysis


Retention index


Total ion chromatogram



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31171930), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (XDJK2014A014), the Graduate Student Innovation Fund of Southwest University to Li Jing (kb2011005), the China Scholarship Council (CSC), Program for Chongqing Innovation Team of University (KJTD201333), and the “111” Project (B12006). LJ and LWS were supported by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. LWS was supported in part by National Science Foundation awards (No. 1139489, 1024974 and 1124719).

Conflict of interest

Li Jing, Zhentian Lei, Guiwei Zhang, Alan Cesar Pilon, David V Huhman, Rangjin Xie, Wanpeng Xi, Zhiqin Zhou, and Lloyd W. Sumner declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals.

Supplementary material

11306_2014_751_MOESM1_ESM.tif (9.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 9292 kb)
11306_2014_751_MOESM2_ESM.docx (47 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li Jing
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zhentian Lei
    • 2
  • Guiwei Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alan Cesar Pilon
    • 2
    • 4
  • David V. Huhman
    • 2
  • Rangjin Xie
    • 5
  • Wanpeng Xi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Zhiqin Zhou
    • 3
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lloyd W. Sumner
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Horticulture and Landscape ArchitectureSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Plant Biology DivisionThe Samuel Roberts Noble FoundationArdmoreUSA
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Horticulture Science for Southern Mountainous RegionsMinistry of EducationChongqingChina
  4. 4.Nucleus of Bioassays, Biosynthesis and Ecophysiology of Natural Products -NuBBESão Paulo State University - UNESPAraraquaraBrazil
  5. 5.Citrus Research InstituteChinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences/Southwest UniversityChongqingChina

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