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Journal of Lipids
Volume 2012, Article ID 476595, 13 pages
Research Article

Nonsterol Triterpenoids as Major Constituents of Olea europaea

1Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (UPR 2357), Université de Strasbourg, 28 rue Goethe, 67083 Strasbourg, France
2Institut für Molekulare Physiologie und Biotechnologie der Pflanzen (IMBIO), Universität Bonn, Kirschallee 1, 53115 Bonn, Germany

Received 5 May 2011; Accepted 20 October 2011

Academic Editor: Angel Catala

Copyright © 2012 Naïm Stiti and Marie-Andrée Hartmann. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Plant triterpenoids represent a large and structurally diverse class of natural products. A growing interest has been focused on triterpenoids over the past decade due to their beneficial effects on human health. We show here that these bioactive compounds are major constituents of several aerial parts (floral bud, leaf bud, stem, and leaf) of olive tree, a crop exploited so far almost exclusively for its fruit and oil. O. europaea callus cultures were analyzed as well. Twenty sterols and twenty-nine nonsteroidal tetra- and pentacyclic triterpenoids belonging to seven types of carbon skeletons (oleanane, ursane, lupane, taraxerane, taraxastane, euphane, and lanostane) were identified and quantified by GC and GC-MS as free and esterified compounds. The oleanane-type compounds, oleanolic acid and maslinic acid, were largely predominant in all the organs tested, whereas they are practically absent in olive oil. In floral buds, they represented as much as 2.7% of dry matter. In callus cultures, lanostane-type compounds were the most abundant triterpenoids. In all the tissues analyzed, free and esterified triterpene alcohols exhibited different distribution patterns of their carbon skeletons. Taken together, these data provide new insights into largely unknown triterpene secondary metabolism of Olea europaea.