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Publication Title | A chemotaxonomic analysis of terpenoid variation in Cannabis

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Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 32 (2004) 875–891 www.elsevier.com/locate/biochemsyseco

A chemotaxonomic analysis of terpenoid variation in Cannabis

Karl W. Hillig

Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

Received 19 September 2003; accepted 25 April 2004

Abstract

To determine whether the terpenoid composition of the essential oil of Cannabis is useful for chemotaxonomic discrimination, extracts of pistillate inflorescences of 162 greenhouse- grown plants of diverse origin were analyzed by gas chromatography. Peak area ratios of 48 compounds were subjected to multivariate analysis and the results interpreted with respect to geographic origin and taxonomic affiliation. A canonical analysis in which the plants were pre-assigned to C. sativa or C. indica based on previous genetic, morphological, and chemo- taxonomic studies resulted in 91% correct assignment of the plants to their pre-assigned spe- cies. A scatterplot on the first two principal component axes shows that plants of accessions from Afghanistan assigned to the wide-leaflet drug biotype (an infraspecific taxon of unspecified rank) of C. indica group apart from the other putative taxa. The essential oil of these plants usually had relatively high ratios of guaiol, isomers of eudesmol, and other unidentified compounds. Plants assigned to the narrow-leaflet drug biotype of C. indica ten- ded to have relatively high ratios of trans-b-farnesene. Cultivars of the two drug biotypes may exhibit distinctive medicinal properties due to significant differences in terpenoid com- position.

# 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Cannabis; Chemotaxonomy; Essential oil; Eudesmol; Guaiol; Hemp; Taxonomy; Terpene

1. Introduction

The essential oil of Cannabis is a complex mixture composed primarily of mono- terpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, and cannabinoids, as well as alkanes and numerous

Corresponding address. 1010 Saratoga Road, Ballston Lake, NY 12019, USA. E-mail address: khillig@bio.indiana.edu (K.W. Hillig).

0305-1978/$ - see front matter # 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bse.2004.04.004

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