Agarwood production is a highly profitable agro-based industry in the Southeast of Asia, with a worldwide market of US$ 6–8 billion. Aquilaria spp. are woody plants which are the source of fragrant resins produced by the plant due to fungal infection. Mechanism of agarwood production is not well understood, but agarwood oil is in great demand in perfume industry and traditional medicine. Traders judge the quality of the resinous agarwood without any standard procedure. The oil is extracted from the agarwood following a step of fermentation. In the present study, we determined the profile of metabolites in the extracts of raw and fermented agarwood as well as three commercial grades of agarwood oil from Assam, by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-based metabolomics analysis coupled with multivariate statistical analysis. The importance of fermentation in agarwood oil production was noted, as three agarwood aromatics, viz. 10S, 11S-Himachala-3(12), 4-diene, agarospirol and i-propyl 12-methyltetradecanoate were formed during fermentation of agarwood. The study also confirms that metabolite profiling can be a simple and effective method to distinguish grades of agarwood oil and their commercial products.
Keywords: Agarwood, aromatic oils, fermentation, multivariate statistics.
Authors: Supriyo Sen, Narayan C. Talukdar and Mojibur Khan
Molecular Biology and Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory, Life Science Division, Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Guwahati 781 035, India
Link to full article: CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 108, NO. 1, 10 JANUARY 2015