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Analytical Discrimination of Poisonous and Nonpoisonous Chemotypes of Giant Fennel (Ferula communis L.) through Their Biologically Active and Volatile Fractions

Rubiolo, P., Matteodo, M., Riccio, G., Ballero, M., Christen, P., Fleury-Souverain, S., Veuthey, J.L., Bicchi, C.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2006 v.54 no.20 pp. 7556-7563
Ferula communis, poisonous plants, chemotypes, chemical constituents of plants, volatile organic compounds, coumarins, esters, high performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, gas chromatography, solid phase extraction, microextraction, Sardinia
Giant fennel (Ferula communis L.) from Sardinia is characterized by two chemotypes with different biological activities. One chemotype is poisonous, due to prenylcoumarins, and responsible for ferulosis, which mainly affects sheep and goats, cattle, and horses; the other chemotype is nonpoisonous and contains daucane esters. The two chemotypes cannot be distinguished botanically. High-performance liquid chromatography-diode array-ultraviolet detection-mass spectrometry (HPLC-DAD-UV-MS) analysis of the composition of the fractions containing the biologically active metabolites and of the volatile fractions, by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), of both essential oil and headspace sampled by headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) are here shown to be effective in discriminating the poisonous and nonpoisonous chemotypes. HS-SPME with CAR/PDMS/DVB in combination with GC-MS has also been found to be a successful, fully automated one-step method for rapid and unequivocal discrimination of the two chemotypes, using aristolene and allohedycaryol as markers of the poisonous and nonpoisonous chemotypes, respectively.