Terpenoids, also known as isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals derived from five-carbon
isoprene units assembled in a variety of ways. Most are multicyclic structures with oxygen-containing functional groups.
They constitute one of the largest families of plant metabolites and are found in all classes of living things.
Terpenoids play several crucial roles in plants. They are involved in growth and development, and are important for plants'
interactions with their environment, such as attracting pollinators, deterring herbivores, and protecting against pathogens.
From a structural perspective, terpenoids are grouped according to the number of isoprene units in the molecule.
The different groups are listed below:
Monoterpenoids (C10, 2 isoprene units)
Sesquiterpenoids (C15, 3 isoprene units)
Diterpenoids (C20, 4 isoprene units)
Sesterterpenoids (C25, 5 isoprene units)
Triterpenoids (C30, 6 isoprene units)
Tetraterpenoids (C40, 8 isoprene units)
Polyterpenoids (larger structures, many isoprene units)
Many terpenoids have significant bioactive properties, making them of interest in medicine, nutrition, and other
fields of research. Some terpenoids have been used for centuries in traditional medicine, while others are important ingredients in
perfumes and cosmetics due to their aromatic properties. Some examples are provided below:
Monoterpenoids like menthol (from peppermint) and limonene (from citrus fruits)
are often used in cosmetics and food products for their fragrant properties.
Sesquiterpenes like artemisinin (from the sweet wormwood plant) are used as antimalarial drugs.
Diterpenes include compounds like taxol (from the Pacific yew tree), which is used in cancer therapy.
Triterpenoids include saponins, which have a range of bioactive
properties and are often found in traditional medicines, and steroids, which have roles in many biological processes in animals.
Carotenoids are tetraterpenoids that have key roles
in plant pigmentation and contribute to the health benefits of many fruits and vegetables.
Examples of some common terpenoids found in bark are provided below:
- A monoterpene commonly found in the bark of pine trees that has a distinctive pine-like aroma.
There are two structural isomers of pinene found in nature: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, with alpha-pinene being more prevalent.
Cedrol - A sesquiterpene alcohol found in the bark of cedar trees.
It has a distinctive woody, cedar-like aroma and is used in the perfume industry.
Camphor - A bicyclic monoterpene found in the bark of the camphor tree.
It has a strong, minty aroma and a cooling sensation. Camphor is used in medicinal products such as ointments and inhalants.
Taxol - A diterpene found in the bark of the Pacific Yew tree.
It has been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and is used as a chemotherapy drug.
Limonene - This is a monoterpene that is found in the bark of citrus trees.
Limonene has a strong, citrusy aroma and is used in a wide range of products from cleaning agents to cosmetics.
Betulin and Betulinic Acid
- These are triterpenoids found in the bark of the white birch tree. Both compounds have been studied for their potential
anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Click here to read about Celignis's
work with the extraction and purification of betulin.
Examples of some common terpenoids found in roots are provided below:
- This sesquiterpenoid is found in the roots and leaves of the sweet wormwood plant (Artemisia annua).
It is a powerful antimalarial compound and is used in the production of some of the most effective antimalarial drugs currently available.
Ginsenosides - These are a class of steroid glycosides, and triterpenoid saponins,
found in the roots of the ginseng plant. They have been studied for a wide range of potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory,
anticancer, and immune-modulating effects.
Astragalosides - These triterpenoid saponins are found in the roots of the
Astragalus plant. They have been studied for their potential immune-boosting and heart-protective effects.
Withanolides - These are a group of steroidal lactones which constitute
a major part of the ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera). They are known for their adaptogenic properties,
helping the body resist physical and chemical stresses.
Furanocoumarins - Found in the roots of many citrus plants, these
terpenoid derivatives have been studied for their potential antiviral and anticancer properties.
- This complex diterpenoid is originally derived from the bark, but it is now more commonly synthesized from
the precursors found in the roots of the yew tree. It is a powerful anti-cancer drug used in the treatment of a variety of cancers.
Examples of some terpenoids found in seeds are provided:
This terpenoid provides the yellow, orange, and red colors found in many plants. Carotenoids are found in the seeds of many plants,
including corn and tomatoes.
- Found in the seeds of Ginkgo biloba and have been studied for their potential medicinal properties, including as anti-asthmatic and
Artemisinin - This is a sesquiterpene lactone (a type of terpenoid)
found in the seeds and leaves of Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood). It is used as an anti-malarial drug.
Sesquiterpene lactones -
Found in many plant seeds, sesquiterpene lactones are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.
Some seeds of the Asteraceae family, such as sunflower seeds, contain these terpenoids.
Monoterpenes - Certain seeds, such as fennel and dill,
contain monoterpenes like limonene and carvone, which give these seeds their characteristic aromas.
- Saponins, which are glycosylated terpenoids, are found in a variety of seeds including quinoa and fenugreek.
The extraction process, including the solvents and methods used, can influence the concentration and types of terpenoids present in the final extract.
It is often the case that a balance needs to be found between fully-extracting all terpenoids while also ensuring that the compounds that are
obtained are of a high quality and not degraded.
At Celignis we have extensive experience in the design and optimisation of extraction protocols for a wide variety of chemical constituents from
many different biomass types. If needed we can also work on processes to separate and purify the target compounds.
Click here to read more about Celignis's Bioprocess Development Services for the extraction of
chemicals from biomass.
Celignis is a Partner in 3 Successful Proposals for EU Funding
We are pleased to announce that three of the proposals involving Celignis, submitted to the CBE-JU programme for funding collaborative biomass research in Europe, were successful. These projects will provide an additional funding of €1.5m to Celignis and build on our achievements in other CBE and EU projects. In particular, the projects are all at enhanced TRLs (6/7) and will use our existing Celignis Bioprocess infrastructure and will also fund further development of our bioprocessing capacities and the Bioprocess Development Services we offer our clients.
Details on the funded projects are provided below:
BIONEER - This project was funded under CBE-JU topic IA-06 and focuses on the TRL 6/7 production of biobased platform chemicals. Celignis's activities in the project focus on scaling up the work undertaken in our ongoing
This Networking Event Will Involve Discussions on Collaborations for Proposals to the 2024 CBE-JU Topics
The Circular Bioeconomy Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE-JU) is an organisation that funds biomass research in Europe at various Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). Since 2016 Celignis has been an active participant in a number of projects funded by the CBE-JU.
The Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) is the steering committee that helps to steer the focus of research for the CBE-JU programme. In 2023 Celignis joined the BIC as a Full Industry Member and participated in several proposals submitted for different research topics in the CBE-JU's 2023 Work Programme.
We're Hiring - Business Administration & Client Relationship Manager
This position will involve working closely with senior management, fostering existing and new client relationships.
Situated in Limerick, Ireland, Celignis currently operates at two centres, Celignis Analytical and Celignis Bioprocess, actively engaging in a variety of private and public bioeconomy projects. As we continue to expand, we're looking to strengthen our team of 14 with a Business Administration and Client Relationship Manager who can bring a blend of enthusiasm and expertise.
This position will involve working closely with senior management, fostering existing and new client relationships, and ensuring successful delivery of our services, playing a key role in our ongoing growth and success.
This conference is being organised under the auspices of the Interreg Northwest Europe-funded THREE C Project, entitled 'Creating and sustaining Charcoal value chains to promote a Circular Carbon economy in NWE Europe'.
The conference will highlight both Irish stakeholders who are currently working in the biochar and carbon products sector, but also partners from the THREE C project (covering Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, France and Wales, as well as Ireland) who have interesting stories and products to share.
Thanks for contacting us. One of our representatives will be in contact with you shortly regarding your inquiry. If you ever have any questions that require immediate assistance, please call us at +353 61 371 725.
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