Volatile Oil and Thymol Accumulation in Thymus vulgaris

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  • 1 Horticultural Research Centre, Dept. of Plant Science, Laval Univ., Que., Canada G1K 7P4
  • | 2 1Inst. of Plant Science, Univ. of Giessen, D-3557 Ebsdorfergrund Rauischholzhausen, Germany

The content of essential oil, thymol, and carvacrol in a thymol-type of clonally selected thyme plants during different developmental stages were investigated under greenhouse and field conditions. Plants in the greenhouse were grown from July to November, under natural light and natural light supplemented by a PPF of 200 μmol·m–2·s–1, provided by HPS lamps, while plants in the field were studied from June to November. Shoot yield and the accumulation of the active principles from greenhouse-grown plants were determined by harvesting the plants at 40-, 60-, and 120-day intervals, while field-grown plants were harvested in August, September, October, and November. Essential oil content, qualitative and quantitative changes in the oil were determined by subjecting the samples to steam distillation and subsequent gas chromatographic analysis. There were important changes in shoot yield, essential oil, thymol, and carvacrol content in the course of plant development. After 120 days of growth under greenhouse conditions, the essential oil content increased by >150%, while thymol content increased by ≈200% compared with the 40-day-old plants. We found some differences in oil content, thymol, and carvacrol accumulation between field- and greenhouse-grown plants. The pattern of crop yield and the accumulation of the major active substances under field and greenhouse conditions are presented and discussed.

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