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Cistus ladanifer L. Shrub is Rich in Saturated and Branched Chain Fatty Acids and their Concentration Increases in the Mediterranean Dry Season


The Cistus ladanifer L. shrub is a widespread species of the Mediterranean region that is available as a feed source for ruminants all the year round, constituting a source of energy and nutrients when most of the vegetation is dry. However, there is no trustworthy information about the fatty acid composition of C. ladanifer, as well as no information about the seasonal and age related changes in their fatty acid composition. Thus, we collected the aerial parts of C. ladanifer plants of two age groups [young vs. older ones (2–6 years old)] during four consecutive seasons to characterize their fatty acid composition. The fatty acid composition of C. ladanifer is dominated by saturated fatty acids including the occurrence of two methyl branched chain fatty acids (BCFA), the iso-19:0 and iso-21:0, which as far as we know were detected for the first time in shrubs. Also, we demonstrated that several labdane type compounds might interfere with the fatty acid analysis of C. ladanifer. Marked seasonal changes in BCFA and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were found, suggesting that BCFA can replace PUFA in plant lipids at high environmental temperatures.

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Branched chain fatty acid(s)


Fatty acid(s)


Fatty acid methyl ester(s)


Polyunsaturated fatty acid(s)


Saturated fatty acid(s)


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The authors would like to thank Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) through research grants to OG (SFRH/BD/84406/2012), EJ (SFRH/BPD/74527/2010) and SPA (SFRH/BPD/76836/2011) and through the PTDC/CVT/120122/2010 project. We also thank the COMPETE/QREN program for their financial support of the ALENT-09-0140-FEDER000705 project, PRODER program for PRODER-020311015068 project, and to Associação de Defesa do Património de Mértola (ADPM) for kindly supplying the Cistus ladanifer L. samples.

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Correspondence to Susana P. Alves.

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Guerreiro, O., Alves, S.P., Duarte, M.F. et al. Cistus ladanifer L. Shrub is Rich in Saturated and Branched Chain Fatty Acids and their Concentration Increases in the Mediterranean Dry Season. Lipids 50, 493–501 (2015).

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  • Cistus ladanifer
  • Seasonal variation
  • Plant age
  • Fatty acids
  • Branched chain fatty acids
  • Gas chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry