Introduction

The Leguminosae family (Fabaceae), the largest of the angiosperms, consists of approximately 650 genera and 18,000 species (Judd et al., 1999). The Faboideae is the largest of the three Leguminosae subfamilies, with approximately 440 genera and 12,000 species. Many species occur in tropical regions, and play a significant part of the life of the Aeschyno-meneae, Dalbergieae, Dipteryxeae, and Sophoreae tribes, found in Latin America (Lorenzi & Matos, 2000).

The genus Pterodon comprises the following Brazilian native species: Pterodon abruptus Benth, Pterodon appariciori Pedersoli, Pterodon emarginatus Vogel, Pterodon pubescens Benth, and Pterodon polygalaeflorus Benth. Chemical investigation of these species was first motivated by the discovery that P. pubescens seed oil inhibited schistosome cercaria penetration in the skin — a property that was attributed to 14,15-epoxygeranylgeraniol, and later to the accompanying linear diterpenoid 14,15-dihydroxy-14,15-dihydrogeranylgeraniol (Mors etal., 1967). Gera-nylgeraniol itself also occurs in P. pubescens seeds, and is responsible for their characteristic 1088 floral odor. Similar biological activity was observed for seed oils of P. emarginatus, P. poly-

galaeflorus, and P. apparicioi, and the presence of the same or related linear diterpenoids thought probable (Mors et al., 1967; Mahjan & Monteiro, 1970). Fourteen furan diterpenes were described and isolated from the seeds of the Pterodon genus, among other substances; eight of these belong to P. emarginatus (Fascio et al., 1976).

Chemical studies on the Pterodon genus have shown the presence of alkaloid compounds in the bark (Torrenegra et al., 1989), isoflavone and some triterpenes in the wood (Marques et al., 1998), diterpenes (Fascio et al., 1976; Arriaga et al., 2000) and isoflavones (Braz-Filho

TABLE 129.1 Chemical Composition of Pterodon emarginatus Seed Essential Oil Determined by Gas Chromatography Coupled to Mass Spectrometer

Chemical

Retention Time

Kovats Index

Percentage

Constituent

(minutes)

Gamma-elemene

15.64

1327

4.7

Beta-elemene

15.67

1380

15.3

Trans-caryophyllene

18.16

1411

35.9

Beta-gurjunene

18.49

1423

4.6

Alpha-humulene

19.23

1449

6.8

Gamma-muurolene

19.44

1456

2.7

Germacrene-D

19.97

1475

9.8

Bicyclogermacrene

20.44

1492

5.5

Spathulenol

22.53

1570

5.9

Caryophyllene oxide

22.72

1577

3.8

C/s-farnesyl acetate

26.34

1815

4.9

Total

99.9

et al., 1971) in seed oil, and phenolic constituents, such as flavonoids, in the seeds (Dutra et al., 2008a). The composition of seed essential oil (EO) of P. emarginatus obtained by steam distillation was analyzed by gas chromatography coupled to a mass spectrophotometer, and the chemical composition is presented in Table 129.1 (Dutra et al., 2009a).

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