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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353385

Research Project: Value-added Bio-oil Products and Processes

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Fatty acids, triterpenes and cycloalkanes in ficus seed oils

item Knothe, Gerhard - Gary
item Razon, Luis - De La Salle University
item De Castro, Maria Ellenita - De La Salle University

Submitted to: Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/26/2018
Publication Date: 11/27/2018
Citation: Knothe, G., Razon, L.F., de Castro, M.E.G. 2019. Fatty acids, triterpenes and cycloalkanes in ficus seed oils. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 135:127-131.

Interpretive Summary: The composition of a seed oil of a plant is essential information for potential applications and physiological uses. In this work, the seed oils of three species of fig plants were analyzed for their composition. No prior work had been done on the seed oils of fig plants. The results show that the oils contain so-called fatty acids found in many other common oils but also some unusual materials not commonly found in seed oils but in other plant parts. The relative amounts likely depend on geography and climate. These oils may therefore have applications beyond what such oils are commonly used for.

Technical Abstract: The compositions of the seed oils obtained by hexane extraction of three members of the Ficus genus of the Moraceae plant family was determined, namely Ficus nota, Ficus septica, and Ficus ulmifolia. Linolenic acid is the most prominent fatty acid in the seed oils followed by linoleic acid, with these two fatty acids comprising about 75% of the fatty acids in the oils. The high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids coincides with high levels of these acids predominating among the fatty acids observed in various plant parts of other Ficus species. Besides the fatty acids, a variety of phytochemicals also found in other plant parts of Ficus species were observed in the seed oils, including squalene, pentacyclic triterpenes such as a-amyrin, ß-amyrin and lupeol, as well as sterols such as cholesterol and y-sitosterol, the former at unusually elevated levels. The levels of these phytochemicals vary from species to species and location of harvest, with F. ulmifolia showing by far the highest level of these materials and with a-amyrin, ß-amyrin and lupeol being the most common, their amounts exceeding those of fatty acids for samples from one specific location. Surprisingly, low levels of macrocyclic alkanes in the range of C24-C30 were identified.