Monday, January 08, 2024

Terpenes: Origin and Properties

Coined by Dumas in 1866, the term "terpene" finds its etymological origin in the Latin word 'turpentine' (Balsamum terebinthinae), denoting a liquid extract derived from pine trees. Turpentine encompasses "resin acids" and specific hydrocarbons initially identified as terpenes. Traditionally, compounds constituted of isoprene subunits, primarily derived from plants, are collectively denominated as terpenes.

Terpenes represent the most extensive and diverse category of plant secondary compounds, predominantly characterized by isoprene units with five carbons linked in various configurations. These compounds are classified based on the quantity of isoprene units, including hemiterpenes (1), monoterpenes (2), sesquiterpenes (3), diterpenes (4), sesterterpenes (5), triterpenes (6), and polyterpenes (numerous units).

While terpenes are prevalent in most plants and fungi, their occurrence in bacteria is infrequent. The development of chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques in 1945 significantly accelerated the exploration of terpenoids and products derived from terpenes. Terpenoidal molecules display antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties.

Terpenes are commonly integrated into flavorings and fragrances due to their pleasing aroma. Various plants or their components (roots, rhizomes, stems, leaves, blossoms, fruits, seeds), including conifer wood, balm trees, citrus fruits, coriander, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, lilies, carnation, caraway, different mint species, roses, rosemary, sage, thyme, violets, are recognized for their pleasant scent, spicy taste, or specific pharmacological effects attributed to terpene compounds.

Certain terpenes, such as hemiterpenes, monoterpenes, and sesquiterpenes, possess a high vapor content and are classified as volatile (VTs), while others, like diterpenes, fall into the categories of semi-volatile or non-volatile.
Terpenes: Origin and Properties

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