Bioactive Phytochemicals from Wild Arbutus unedo L. Berries from Different Locations in Portugal: Quantification of Lipophilic Components


The lipophilic composition of wild Arbutus unedo L. berries, collected from six locations in Penacova (center of Portugal), as well as some general chemical parameters, namely total soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, total phenolic content and antioxidant activity was studied in detail to better understand its potential as a source of bioactive compounds. The chemical composition of the lipophilic extracts, focused on the fatty acids, triterpenoids, sterols, long chain aliphatic alcohols and tocopherols, was investigated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of the dichloromethane extracts. The lipophilic extractives of the ripe A. unedo berries ranged from 0.72% to 1.66% (w/w of dry weight), and consisted mainly of triterpenoids, fatty acids and sterols. Minor amounts of long chain aliphatic alcohols and tocopherols were also identified. Forty-one compounds were identified and among these, ursolic acid, lupeol, alpha-amyrin, linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids, and beta-sitosterol were highlighted as the major components. To the best of our knowledge the current research study provides the most detailed phytochemical repository for the lipophilic composition of A. unedo, and offers valuable information for future valuation and exploitation of these berries.



subject category

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Chemistry


Fonseca, DFS; Salvador, AC; Santos, SAO; Vilela, C; Freire, CSR; Silvestre, AJD; Rocha, SM

our authors


Funding is acknowledged from the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) through the Competitive Factors Thematic Operational Program (COMPETE) and from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal, for funding the Research Units QOPNA-Organic Chemistry, Natural and Agro-Food Products (Research Unit 62/94 QOPNA, under projects PEst-C/QUI/UI0062/2013 and FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-037296), and CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials (UID/CTM/50011/2013). FCT/MCTES (Portugal) is also acknowledged for the doctoral grant to Angelo C. Salvador (SFRH/BD/73778/2010), the postdoctoral grants to Sonia A. O. Santos (SFRH/BPD/84226/2012) and Carla Vilela (SFRH/BPD/84168/2012), and for a contract under Investigador FCT 2012 to Carmen S. R. Freire (IF/01407/2012). Authors also thank Medronhalva, Lda for supplying the A. unedo berries.

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