Sandalwood is a hemi-parasitic tree with both social and economic importance. Approximately eighteen sandalwood species have been classified into the family Santalaceae and genus Santalum with Santalum album being the most recognised species because of its high α- and β-santalol content which give its oil its unique fragrance. The main species of sandalwood grown in Western Australia is Santalum Spicatum. It is valued mainly for its fragrant essential oil which is used in perfumes and cosmetic products. Sesquiterpene alcohols constitute more than 90% of all volatiles present in sandalwood essential oil and quality is highly linked to two specific sesquiterpenes: α-santolol and β-santolol.Variation in α- santalol, β-santalol and oil yield of sandalwood essential oil has been observed within Santalum spicatum. The variation in α- santalol and β-santalol is less age related, but depends on the section of tree (butt, roots, branches) Other studies have also reported variation in oil yield and related it to age of tree, (with >25 years having stable oil yield), section of tree sampled and tree location, but these factors alone do not explain all the variation observed.
The studies to date have involved a limited number of trees. To the researcher’s knowledge there has been no comprehensive study that has investigated variation in oil yield or sesquiterpene content for a large sample of trees. Furthermore, an understanding of how geographical location might influence chemical composition, oil yield and santalol concentration has yet to be conducted.
The study seeks to develop solid-phase micro-extraction method (SPME) to determine heartwood oil composition; optimise conventional extraction by investigating solvent assisted ultrasonic and microwave digestion extraction method with respect to sesquiterpene yield and oil yield; determine and describe the spatial patterns with respect to oil yield and santalol concentration and to use the technique solid-phase micro-extraction and spatial information to identify adulteration in S. spicatum essential oil.
The identification and quantification (percentage composition) of sesquiterpenes in S. spicatum essential oil will be achieved using a high resolution GC-MS. The GC-MS data generated will be compared with mass spectra and retention indices measured from authentic reference compounds under similar conditions to ensure correct identification.
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