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Official Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society

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Composition and antitermite activities of essential oils from Melaleuca species


 The composition and antitermite activities of nine essential oils from two Melaleuca species, gelam and cajuputi, were compared using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis and bioassays. Gelam oils were rich in compounds whose boiling points were high, and they were separated into the elemene-rich type and the γ-terpinene- and terpinolene-rich type. Cajuputi oils in this experiment were categorized into three chemotypes according to their 1,8-cineole content: high, low, none. In the termiticidal activity test, gelam oils were stronger than most cajuputi oils in the contact condition. The elemene-rich gelam lost its activity in the noncontact condition, whereas another type of gelam kept its termiticidal activity. The authentic sample of elemene showed the same result as the elemene-rich gelam, indicating that the termiticidal activity of gelam was caused by at least two types of compound: elemene and “others.” 1,8-Cineole exhibited the same tendency as elemene, but it was weak. Hence the 1,8-cineole content of cajuputi was irrelevant to termiticidal activity of samples that exhibited strong activity under both conditions despite their high content. The appearances of gelam and cajuputi leaves are easily confused, a problem that has not yet been solved. Other scientific methods, such as genetic analysis, are required to identify gelam. The difference in the compositions and antitermite activities, however, were charified in this experiment.

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Correspondence to M. Yatagai.

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Received: November 30, 2001 / Accepted: June 5, 2002

Correspondence to:M. Yatagai

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Sakasegawa, M., Hori, K. & Yatagai, M. Composition and antitermite activities of essential oils from Melaleuca species. J Wood Sci 49, 181–187 (2003).

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