In depth investigation of the metabolism of Nectandra megapotamica chemotypes
Plants produce a wide range of secondary metabolites. Within a single species, chemotypes can be distinguished by the differences in the composition of the secondary metabolites. Herein, we evaluated Nectandra megapotamica (Spreng.) chemotypes and the balance of different classes of metabolites to verify how significant differences in plant metabolism are regarding chemotypes. We collected N. megapotamica leaves from eight adult plants in two Brazilian states. The essential oils and ethanol/water extracts were analyzed by GC-MS and LC-DAD-MS, respectively. Histochemical tests were performed, as well as chemical analyses of leaves from adaxial and abaxial foliar surfaces of N. megapotamica, and the stereochemistry of α-bisabolol was determined. Two different chemotypes, based on volatile compounds, were identified, distinguished by the presence of isospathulenol, α-bisabolol, β-bisabolene, and (E)-nerolidol for chemotype A, and bicyclogermacrene and elemicin for chemotype B. A stereochemical analysis of chemotype A extract revealed (+)-α-bisabolol enantiomer. Histochemical tests of chemotypes showed similar results and suggested the presence of essential oil in idioblasts stained with the dye NADI. The analyses of chemotype A leaves by GC-MS revealed similar compositions for abaxial and adaxial surfaces, such pattern was also observed for chemotype B. Medium and high polarity metabolites showed high chemical similarities between the chemotypes, highlighting the presence of proanthocyanidins and glycosylated flavonoids (O- and C-glycosides). Thus, N. megapotamica produced distinct volatile chemotypes with highly conserved medium to high polarity compounds. Such results suggest that phenolic derivatives have a basal physiological function, while genetic or environmental differences lead to differentiation in volatile profiles of N. megapotamica.