Research

Extraction and Analysis of Terpenes/Terpenoids

Published: June 10, 2016

Abstract: Terpenes/terpenoids constitute one of the largest classes of natural products, this is due to the incredible chemical diversity that can arise from the biochemical transformations of the relatively simple prenyl diphosphate starter units. All terpenes/terpenoids comprise a hydrocarbon backbone that is generated from the various length prenyl diphosphates (a polymer chain of prenyl units). Upon ionization (removal) of the diphosphate group, the remaining allylic carbocation intermediates can be coaxed down complex chemical cascades leading to diverse linear and cyclized hydrocarbon backbones, which can then be further modified with a wide range of functional groups (e.g. alcohol, ketones, etc.) and substituent additions (e.g. sugars, fatty acids). Because of this chemical diversity, terpenes/terpenoids have great industrial uses as flavors, fragrances, high grade lubricants, biofuels, agricultural chemicals and medicines. The protocols presented here focus on the extraction of terpenes/terpenoids from various plant sources and have been divided into extraction methods for terpenes/terpenoids with various levels of chemical decoration, from the relative small, nonpolar, volatile hydrocarbons to substantially large molecules with greater physical complexity due to their chemical modifications.

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