Morphological Variability and Chemical Composition of Essential Oils from Nineteen Varieties of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Growing in Sudan
This study characterized the essential oil compositions
of 19 accessions of basil, of which 14 are grown in Sudan as ornamental
plants, 3 were introduced from abroad as seeds and 2 were collected from
wild Sudanese basil. All were collected as seeds and grown at the University
of Gezira farm. Interesting morphological variability among the accessions
was noted and recorded in photos. The essential oil content varied from
0.33 to 0.47% in fresh leaves and from 0.13 to 0.4% in fresh flowers.
The essential oil components were separated and/ or identified by TLC,
GC and GC-MS. Chemical variability among Sudanese basil essential oil
was extremely broad. According to the major constituent the basil
accessions were classified into 7 groups, namely, high methyl chavicol
(>50%), high linalool (>50%), high geraniol (>50%), linalool-
methyl cinnamate, linalool-geraniol, methyl cinnamate- linalool and eugenol-linalool.
Such classification of Sudanese basil oils is much needed if international
marketing of this oil(s) is contemplated.
to cite this article:
A.H.N. Abduelrahman, S.A. Elhussein, N.A1. Osman and A.H. Nour, 2009. Morphological Variability and Chemical Composition of Essential Oils from Nineteen Varieties of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Growing in Sudan. International Journal of Chemical Technology, 1: 1-10.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), locally known in Sudan as rihan, is an
aromatic plant that grown in Sudan as a wild plant and is also cultivated for
ornamental purposes. There is no use for basil herb in Sudan; apart from limited
folk medicinal applications e.g., use as anti-malarial by Southern Sudanese,
or insecticidal use in Western Sudan. Sudanese basils, particularly cultivated
ornamental types, show notable variation in chemical composition as judged by
odour. Basil is cultivated worldwide as a culinary herb, it is also a source
of essential oil for use in foods, flavors and fragrances as well as garden
ornamental. The essential oil of basil has therapeutic properties shown stimulant,
cephalic, tonic, antidepressant and antibacterial, antifungal, anti spasmodic
and antiviral activity in test tube studies (Farnsworth et
al., 1992). It is also believed to act as a carminative, relieving intestinal
gas and as a mild diuretic, though these actions have yet to be definitively
proven. Basil with all of its varieties is a popular herb known for its flavorful
foliage. The popularity of basil has led to the introduction of many products
into the marketplace (Simon et al., 1999; Simpson
et al., 1996). The fresh or dried leaves add a distinctive flavor
to many foods, such as Italian style tomato sauces, pesto sauce and salad dressing
(Karwowska, 1997). The essential oils and oleo-resins
may be extracted from leaves and flowers and used for flavoring in liqueurs
and for fragrance in perfumes and soaps. Variable uses of basil are depending
on available varieties. For fresh market production, select basil with good
flavor and attractive, dark green or purple foliage is used. Scented basils,
such as lemon, licorice and cinnamon basil, are used fresh or dried in potpourri,
jellies, honeys, vinegars and baked goods. For production of dried leaves or
essential oils for the international market, French, American or Egyptian basil
may be grown. There are also several ornamental type basils (Stuart,
1990). Basil contains a strong-scented essential oil composed primarily
of chemical compounds such as eugenol, thymol and estragole. Basil also has
what are known as chemotypes, minor variations among plants that contain significantly
different mixes of constituents. The exact components of basil oil vary widely,
being affected not only by these chemotypes but also by factors such as the
time of day of harvest. This may account for some of the variability in scientific
research and reports of medicinal efficacy of basil from culture to culture
(Martin et al., 2003).
Basils have many cultivars, often named by the type of aroma they emit. Basils
may look almost identical but have distinct aromas, yet others which appear
different may exhibit a similar aroma (Simon et al.,
1990). The plant part harvested depends upon projected use. When basil is
grown for its dried leaves, it is harvested just prior to the appearance of
flowers. For essential oil, it is harvested during full bloom. More about this
could be found in reviews by Keita et al. (2001).
The use and production of basil essential oil is expanding in the international
market according to Lawrence (1988, 1992).
The essential oil composition of basil oils is considerable importance in the
international market e.g. linalool and methyl chavicol are desired in European
sweet basil (Cavalcanti et al., 2004). The essential
oil composition has been reported for basils from different countries e.g. U.K,
Brazil (Silva et al., 2003) and Italy (Marotti
et al., 1996). Also, according to the chemical composition and geographical
origin, Lawrence (1988) classified Ocimum basilicum
types into three groups: European type, Exotic or Reunion type and African type.
No research was carried out to evaluate the essential oil variation in basils
growing in Sudan. The main objective of this study is to chemically characterize
the essential oils of Sudanese basils as world trade demands specific chemical
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Basil seeds used in these studies were obtained from different parts
of Sudan (i.e., Elfashir, Nyala, Elobeid, Eldueim, Khartoum, Wad Medani,
Kassala, Halfaelgadida, Port Sudan and Dongola). Commercial basil accessions
seed were obtained from Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Table
1 shows geographical sources of collected basil seed accessions and
corresponding plant habitat. Seeds of basil accessions were directly sown
on 60 cm wide ridges at the University of Gezira, research farm at Wad
Medani, Sudan. Observations were made on growth and flowering of the plants
||Geographical sources of collected basil seed accessions used
in the study and corresponding plant habitat
Essential Oil Extraction and TLC Fractionation
Leaves and flowers of plant material (150 g) were subjected to steam
distillation. The extraction was carried out at a rate not exceeding 3
mL m-1, distillation was continued for between 1 ½ and
4 h. The volume of the obtained essential oil was calculated as a percentage
volume per weight (% v/w). The essential oils were dried over anhydrous
Na2SO4, stored in a dark bottle and kept at 4 °C
until analysis. Silica gel G and GF60 were used to separate basil oil
constituents under standard conditions.
GC, GC-MS Analysis
The essential oils composition was determined by Gas Liquid Chromatography
(GLC). A PYE UNICAM Gas chromatograph GCD, with a Flame Ionization Detector
(FID) and computing integrator, was employed in all analysis. Hydrogen
was used for the flame; Oxygen-free nitrogen was the carrier gas. Column
(1.2 m) was packed with the liquid phase Polyethylene Glycol Succinate
(PEGS) on celite (100-120 mesh). GC conditions were: capillary column:
fused silica (poly dimethyl siloxane, 0.25 μm film thickness) 30
mx0.25 i.d; temperature program: 50 °C (5 min-1), 50-250
°C (4.5 °C min-1 ), 250 °C (10 min-1);
carrier gas, He at 100 kPa, linear velocity of 20 cm min-1
; injection port split/splitting (splitting ratio 1:30) at 250 °C;
injection volume, 0.05 μL. MS conditions were: ionization EI at 70
eV; m/z range, 30-300 °C; scan rate sec-1; ionization chamber
at 180 °C, transfer line at 280 °C. Tetradecane was used as internal
standard. Compounds were identified by comparison of their mass spectra,
Kovats retention indices (KI) and their Retention Time (RT), with those
of standards (authentic) samples and /or the MS library.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Morphological Variability Among Basil Accessions Cultivated at University
In this study 16 accessions of seeds of Ocimum basilicum were collected
from different parts of Sudan, two accessions were obtained from Germany and
one from the United Arab Emirates. Two of the accessions collected in Sudan
were wild plants, the rest (14) were from plants grown for ornamental purposes.
All throughout the tables and figures of this discussion the accessions are
numbered from 1 to 21, assigned before sowing seed in the field.
||The quantitative variability parameters of the 19 basil accessions
(These parameters were determined at the start of flowering. Days to flowering
initial were counted from seed sowing)
Seeds of accessions number 4 and 5 failed to germinate, after several trials
and the two numbers were left outs. The photographs show wide morphological
variability apparent in leaf size, shape and colour, flower colour, stem colour,
inflorescence shape, plant height and growth habit. Quantitative variability
parameters have been observed in the morphology of the 19 accessions, viz.,
plant diameter, days to flowering initiation (from sowing date), leaf length
and width, as well as plant height. Average plant height varied from 39 to 129
cm (Table 2). Wild Sudanese Ocimum basilicum is dwarf
(39 and 40 cm height) compared to the cultivated ornamental types. Days required
for the initiation of flowering were different (54 to 77 days).
Leaf size also differed among the accessions. This variability confirms previous
study that the aroma of different basil plants greatly differ. Morphological
variability was recognized by several authors reporting on Ocimum basilicum
growing in several geographical zones of the world (e.g. Grayer
et al., 1996). Differences in morphological forms of Ocimum basilicum
are a subject amply discussed in the literature. Simon et
al. (1999) claimed that interspecific hybridization and polyploidy which
are common in the genus Ocimum had created taxonomic confusion within the genus.
However, basils are sometimes classified according to geographical origin e.g.,
Egyptian, Reunion basil etc. Darrah (1980) classified Ocimum
basilicum cultivars into seven groups such as slender, large- leafed, dwarf,
purple etc types. It seems that Sudanese basils mostly fall into the slender-type
and the purple group.
Essential Oil Content of Leaves and Flowers of Basil Accessions Cultivated
in Nishishiba Farm
Basil plants were separated into two parts leaves and flowers, followed
by steam distillation of each part. The oil content (%) was expressed on a fresh
weight basis. Table 3 shows the essential oil contents of
the leaf and flower parts of the different accession. For the leaf part the
value ranged from 0.33 to 0.47% for the cultivated- type Sudanese accessions.
The three accessions collected from Khartoum (1, 3 and 7) scored a leaf essential
oil content of 0.40%. However, the three Wad Medani accessions (2, 8 and 16)
were variable scoring 0.33, 0.33 and 0.47%, the latter being the highest value
recorded for leaf essential oil content. The two wild- type accessions (from
Eldueim and Wad Medani areas) both showed a leaf essential oil content of 0.33%.
The accession procured from Emirate seed stores (No. 19) had relatively low
leaf essential oil content (0.33%) compared to the Sudanese accessions.
|| Essential oil content (%) of the fresh leaf and flower parts
of the different basil accessions grown in Nishishiba
The two accessions obtained from German seed stores had even a lower content,
both having 0.20% of the leaf fresh weight. On the other hand the essential
oil content of the fresh flowers varied from 0.26 to 0.4% for the 14 cultivated
Sudanese accessions. For the two wilds-type accessions the flowers contained
an intermediate value 0.33%. Flowers of the two types of German origin, again,
had the lowest values (0.2 and 0.13%). The essential oil content of the leaf
reported in the literature on an oil volume/ fresh weight basis varied from
as low as 0.04 to 0.7% for Ocimum species in general (Simon
et al., 1990). Sajjadi (2006) reports that
the yield of the essential oils obtained from aerial parts of Ocimum basilicum
cv. purple and Ocimum basilicum cv. green in Iran were 0.2 and 0.5%,
respectively, being the main essential oil containing part. Charles
et al. (1990) reported an essential oil content of 1.54, 0.63 and
0.08 (volume/ fresh weight) for the leaf, flowers and stem, respectively, for
Ocimum micranthum Willd, grown in Indiana (USA). Suchorska
and Osinska (2001) studied 5 forms of sweet basils (Ocimum basilicum)
from Germany, Romains, Hungary and Egypt and reported that the oil content varied
from 0.1 to 0.55%. Ntezurubanza et al. (1984)
found that essential oil content of Ocimum kilimandscharium (camphor
basil) grown in USA was 0.5-1%. The floral parts of basil accessions contained
0.13 to 0.4% essential oil. The lower value was, again, present in accession
no. 18 (German), the higher value (0.40%) was encountered in 5 accessions, all
of the indigenous ornamental types. Although the three accessions from Khartoum
(1, 3 and 7) showed the same content of essential oil in their leaves, the same
content of the flower was different (Table 3).
The leaf part is the major contributor to plant fresh weight, and also
contains somewhat higher essential oil content. It is thus the most important
morphological part for essential oil production (Table 4).
Essential Oil Constituents of Basil Accessions
GLC separations of the essential oils of basil accessions (introduced or
indigenous ornamental and wild types) contained between 5 and 12 components.
All were monoterpenes except for some sesquiterpenes, present in small amounts.
The major sesquiterpene, bergamontene, was present as the second main component
in accessions No. 13 (Port Sudan) and No. 19 (UAE) where it represented 7.3
and 3.1%, respectively (Table 5). Linalool was present in
amounts above 3% in all indigenous and introduced ornamental accessions except
accession No. 1 (Khartoum1), its amounts reaching close to 80% in
one indigenous ornamental basil No. 13 (Port Sudan) and basil introduced from
UAE (No. 19). Linalool was present in only trace amount in the two wild accessions
|| Plant part contribution (%) to total plant-fresh weight for
the studied basil accessions (L= leaf, F= flower)
|*Young flowers that just opened
|| GLC analysis (%) compositions of essential oils of 19 basil
accessions cultivated in Nishishiba
|*Foreign accessions, recently introduced for the study
The two wild accessions (from Wad Medani and ELdueim) had somewhat different
essential oil compositions. However, their essential oils had a distinct composition
when compared with the indigenous ornamental types in that they contained geraniol
as the major component and geranial as the second component, (Table
5). It is noteworthy that one of the German origin accessions had a similar
composition, (Table 5). In fact this German origin accession
had leaf morphology and nasal scent similar to the two wild accessions. Geraniol
was detected in several indigenous ornamental basils in amounts up to 27.3%
(Table 5). However, its presence was not associated with its
aldehyde derivative, geranial, in these accessions. Significant amounts of geraniol
and its putative metabolic relative, geranial were present only in the two wild
basils. Methyl eugenol was detected in the essential oil of only one accession
where it represented as much as 9.0% of indigenous ornamental type accession
No. 1 (Khartoum1). Miele et al. (2001)
postulated that this compound could be formed in basil from eugenol by a specific
methylation involving an S-adenosylmethionine-dependent O-methyltransferase
in a manner analogous to its formation in Ocimum basilicum L. cv. Genoese
Gigante. However, eugenol, the suggested precursor was not detected in the Sudanese
accession (Table 5). Similar results were reported in O.
basilicum i.e. absence of eugenol and presence of its methyl derivative
(Miele et al., 2001; Ozcan
and Chalchat, 2002). An attempt was made to correlate apparent plant morphological
characters especially general inflorescence shape and colour with essential
oil chemical constituents. No clear-cut correlations were obtained. One generalization
that could be made is all pink- coloured accessions contained Linalool in significant
amounts especially when looking at indigenous ornamental basils. However, accessions
No. 1, 2 and 3, which looked morphologically different, all contained methyl
chavicol in relative amounts more than 70% (Table 5). Sajjadi
(2006) compared the chemical composition of the essential oils of two varieties
of basil, to which the author referred as Ocimum basilicum L. cv. Purple
and O. basilicum cv. green and reported that the dominant component in
both varieties was methyl chavicol. Moreover, the green variety was characterized
by a high content (46.1%) of citral (neral and geranial). However, citral was
not detected in the oil of purple basil by this author. Although methyl chavicol
was detected in both pink and green accessions, neral was not detected in pink
accessions. In Sudanese basil both the pink and green basil forms are present.
However, neral was not detected, while methyl chavicol was detected. We can
therefore conclude that the classification of varieties into purple and green
ones has no bearing on chemical constituents.
Some worker were also analysed the content and chemical composition of essential
oil from two forms of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), to which the
author referred as purple basil and green basil and reported that linalool was
isolated at the highest percentage (71.25%) in UK. Methyl chavicol was not found
in the purple form, but was isolated at low percentages in the green basil form.
Silva et al. (2003) studied essential oils of
Ocimum basilicum L., Ocimum basilicum var. minimum L. and Ocimum
basilicum var. purpurascens grown in north-eastern Brazil and the author
reported that Ocimum basilicum var. minimum represented a true methyl
chavicol chemotype, while the other two species belonged to linalool chemotypes.
Marotti et al. (1996) studied the essential oil
composition of ten Italian basil cultivars of Ocimum basilicum in relation
to morphological characteristics and they reported that the oils were characterized
by the presence of methyl chavicol, linalool and eugenol. Two chemotypes each
had their own suite of morphological characters, whereas 2 groups of cultivars,
with different morphological parameters belonged to the same chemotype (linalool
Chemical Classification of Sudanese Basils
We attempted to classify the basil accessions analysed according to the
major essential oil constituents present. Table 6 shows the
major three constituents in the essential oil of each of the 19 accessions.
The accessions were classified into 7 classes where either one essential oil
constituent dominated in proportions exceeding 50% of the oil constituents or/otherwise,
the first two major constituents designed the group, the more dominant compound
||Top three components in all basil accessions cultivated in
Nishishiba (LG= long, green flower; CP= compact, pink flower; LP = long,
pink flower; P* = faint pink)
The major 7 classes were: high methyl chavicol (3 accessions), high linalool
(4 accessions), high geraniol (3 accessions), linalool- methyl cinnamate (4
accessions), linalool-geraniol (2 accessions), methyl cinnamate-linalool (2
accessions) and eugenol- linalool (1 accession). The last group (eugenol- linalool)
was represented by only one accession, namely, No. 18, one of the two accessions
of recent German origin, therefore wild and ornamental indigenous basil accession
distributed into the other 6 groups. The two wild accessions represented a unique
class, that of the high- geraniol type. It is interesting that the other German
accession (No. 17) belonged to this class. None of the indigenous ornamental
types was included in the wild basil class. The third recently introduced accession
No. 19, from UAE, occupied the class of ;high linalool. Lawrence
(1992) analyzed more than 200 oils of Ocimum basilicum in the Royal
Botanic Gardens, UK and classified them into 4 types based on the main constituent:
methyl chavicol, linalool, methyl eugenol and methyl cinnamate. Indigenous basil
accessions contained all these four groups. However, the author did not detect
an eugenol rich accession. Grayer et al. (1996)
analyzed 16 accessions of Ocimum basilicum grown in England and originally
obtained from different countries including Italy, Holland, USA, India, Brazil,
Yemen, Israel, UK and Thailand. The researchers classified the essential oils
of the basils they studied into 5 groups in which the major constituent was
linalool, methyl chavicol, a mixture of linalool and methyl chavicol, mixture
of linalool and eugenol, or a mixture of methyl chavicol and methyl eugenol.
This classification is different from ours in that the linalool- methyl chavicol,
linalool- eugenol and methyl chavicol-methyl eugenol classes were not present
in Sudanese basils. Another difference is that Sudan basils contained 3 classes
not mentioned by Grayer et al. (1996), namely,
linalool-geraniol, linalool- methyl cinnamate and high (>50%) geraniol classes.
Mondello et al. (2002) reported that Ocimum
basilicum from Bangladesh contained linalool and geraniol as the main components.
Murillo (2003) reporting on Ocimum basilicum Colombia
and Bulgaria showed that linalool and methyl cinnamate were the major components
of volatile oils, respectively. Linalool and methyl eugenol are the main components
of the essential oils of Ocimum basilicum cultivated in Mali (Chalchat
et al., 1999) and Guinea (Keita et al.,
2000). Mixtures of methyl chavicol and linalool were the main components
of the essential oils of Ocimum basilicum cultivated in Rwanda (Ntezurubanza
et al., 1984), Australia (Lachowiez et al.,
1997), Togo (Sanda et al., 1998), Benin (Moudachirou
et al., 1999) and Nigeria (Kasali et al.,
2004). Some reported work did not reveal variability among basil accessions
in some countries. Chalchat et al. (1999) analysed
24 accessions of Ocimum basilicum from Mali and reported that they all
contained Linalool as the principal constituent. Some literature reports dealt
with only one accession which will not, of course, show the range of variability
within the geographic area. For example, Ozcan and Chalchat
(2002) reported that an accession of Ocimum basilicum from Turkey
contained methyl eugenol as the main constituent.
Sajjadi (2006) analysed two cultivated varieties of
Iranian Ocimum basilicum, purple and green. The purple variety contained
mainly methyl chavicol (52.4%) and linalool (20.1%) while the green variety
also contained methyl chavicol (40.5%), geranial (27.6%) and neral (18.5%).
The purple variety lacked any citral (geranial and neral).The natures of the
constituents of basil essential oil are concern in the international market.
The world market for basil oil is dominated by two main types, the European
and Egyptian basil oils. The European sweet basil cultivated and distilled in
Europe, the Mediterranean region and the United States is considered to be of
the highest quality, producing the finest odor. Characteristically, the essential
oil from this basil contains high concentra-ions of linalool and methyl chavicol
(estragole), at a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. The Egyptian basil oil is similar but
with a much higher concentration and ratio of methyl chavicol relative to linalool.
Other distinct types of basil oil traded in the international market and which
differ in aroma include the Comoro (also called Reunion or African basil oil),
originally distilled only on Reunion Isle but now grown and distilled throughout
many parts of Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands which has a licorice
and/ or camphoraceous fragrance. Thus indigenous (and ornamental) Sudanese basils
display a wide range of differences in their essential oil constituents that
comprised several chemical classes. Such variability is distinct when compared
with variability reported in the literature for basils growing elsewhere in
Basil is an important culinary herb and essential oil source widely recognized
worldwide. Essential oil characterized into 19 accessions of basil. Essential
oil components were separated via TLC, GC and GC-MS.
I must acknowledge partial financial support offered by the Basil Project
at NOPRI, University of Gezira. This project is a kind research grant
from the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khartoum,
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