Leaf epicuticular waxes of eleven Euphorbia species (Euphorbiaceae) from the central Balkans: impact on chemotaxonomy

Gordana Krstić, Ivana Aljančić, Jovana Stanković, Mirjana Cvetković, Petar Marin, Peđa Janaćković, Vele Tešević


The presence of n-alkanes, free alcohols and free acids in leaf epicuticular wax extracts of 22 samples of 11 Euphorbia L. species belonging to the sections Paralias, Esula, Myrsiniteae and Helioscopia, 10 of which were never examined before, were analyzed by gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and n-alkane C27 was detected as the principal component of leaf epicuticular waxes in the majority of the examined species, while the most abundant free alcohol was C26. Three Euphorbia species belonging to section Helioscopia were characterized by a predominance of alcohol C28. Free acid (C16) was the major component in 21 investigated samples. The usefulness of n-alkanes and free alcohols and free acids as potential chemotaxonomic markers is briefly discussed.


Received: June 8, 2018; Revised: August 31, 2018; Accepted: September 12, 2018; Published online: September 21, 2018

How to cite this article: Krstić G, Aljančić I, Stanković J, Cvetković M, Marin P, Janaćković P, Tešević V. Leaf epicuticular waxes of eleven Euphorbia species (Euphorbiaceae) from the Central Balkans: Impact on chemotaxonomy. Arch Biol Sci. 2019;71(1):21-6.


Euphorbia spp.; leaf epicuticular waxes; n-alkanes; free alcohols; free acids

Full Text:



Mabberley DJ. Mabberley’s plant-book: A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2008. 325 p.

Turril, WB. The Plant-life of the Balkan Peninsula: A Phytogeographical Study. Oxford : Clarendon Press; 1929.490 p.

Baker EA. Chemistry and morphology of plant epicuticular waxes. In: Cutler DF, Alvin KL, Price CE, editors. The plant cuticle, Linnean Society Symposium Series. London: Academic Press; 1982. 139 p.

Jetter R, Schaffer S, Riederer M. Leaf cuticular waxes are arranged in chemically and mechanically distinct layers: evidence from Prunus laurocerasus L. Plant Cell Environ. 2000;23(6):619-28.

Eglinton G, Hamilton RJ. Leaf epicuticular waxes. Science. 1967;156(3870):1322-34.

Jenks MA, Tuttle HA, Eigenbrode SD, Kenneth AF. Leaf epicuticular waxes of the Eceriferum mutants in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 1995;108(1):369-77.

Post-Beittenmiller D. Biochemistry and molecular biology of wax production in plants. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol. 1996;47:405-30.

Hauke V, Schreiber L. Ontogenetic and seasonal development of wax composition and cuticular transpiration of ivy (Hedera helix L.) sun and shade leaves. Planta. 1998;207(1):67-75.

Cameron KD, Teece MA, Bevilacqua E, Smart LB Diversity of cuticular wax among Salix species and Populus species hybrids. Phytochemistry. 2002;60(7):715-25.

Vioque J, Pastor J, Vioque E. Leaf alkanes in the genus Coincya. Phytochemistry. 1994;36(2):349-52.

Maffei, M. Chemotaxonomic significance of leaf wax alkanes in the Gramineae. Biochem Syst Ecol. 1996;24(1):53-64.

Maffei, M. Chemotaxonomic significance of leaf wax n-alkanes in the Umbelliferae, Cruciferae and Leguminosae (subf. Papilionoideae). Biochem Syst Ecol. 1996;24(6):531-45.

Mimura MRM, Salatino MLF, Salatino A, Baumgratz JFA. Alkanes from foliar epicuticular waxes of Huberia species: Taxonomic implications. Biochem Syst Ecol. 1998; 26(5):581-8.

Skorupa LA, Salatino MLF, Salatino A. Hydrocarbons of leaf epicuticular waxes of Pilocarpus (Rutaceae): taxonomic meaning. Biochem Syst Ecol. 1998;26(5):655-62.

Bojović S, Šarac Z, Nikolić B, Tešević V, Todosijević M, Veljić M, Marin PD. Composition of n-alkanes in natural populations of Pinus nigra from Serbia-chemotaxonomic implications. Chem Biodivers. 2012;9(12):2761-74.

Rajčević N, Janaćković P, Dodoš T, Tešević V, Marin PD. Essential-oil variability of Juniperus deltoides R. P. Adams along the east Adriatic coast – How many chemotypes are there? Chem Biodivers. 2015;12(1):82-95.

Dodoš T, Rajčević N, Tešević V, Matevski V, Janaćković P, Marin PD. Composition of leaf n-alkanes in three Satureja montana L. subspecies from the Balkan Peninsula: ecological and taxonomic aspects. Chem Biodivers. 2015;12(1):157-69.

Li R, Luo G, Meyers PA, Gu Y, Wang H, Xie S. Leaf wax n-alkane chemotaxonomy of bamboo from a tropical rain forest in Southwest China. Plant Syst Evol, 2012;298(4):731-8.

Hemmers H, Guelz PG. Epicuticular waxes from leaves of five Euphorbia species. Phytochemistry. 1986;25(9):2103-7.

Guelz PG, Bodden J, Mueller E, Marner FJ. Epicuticular wax of Euphorbia aphylla Brouss. ex. Willd., Euphorbiaceae. Z Naturforsch C. 1988;43:19-23.

Hemmers WH, Guelz PG, Marner FJ. Tetra- and pentacyclic triterpenoids from epicuticular wax of Euphorbia cyparissias L., Euphorbiaceae. Z. Naturforsch C. 1989;44: 563-7.

Ahmad W, Nazir M, Chaudhary FM, Ahmad FA. Hydrocarbon distribution in epicuticular waxes of five Euphorbia species. Z. Naturforsch C. 1996;51:291-5.

Aljančić I, Pešić, M, Milosavljević S, Todorović N, Jadranin M, Milosavljević G, Povrenović D, Banković J, Tanić N, Marković I, Ruždijić S, Vajs V, Tešević V. Isolation and biological evaluation of jatrophane diterpenoids from Euphorbia dendroides. J Nat Prod. 2011;74(7):1613-20.

Jadranin M, Pešić M, Aljančić I, Milosavljević S, Todorović N, Podolski-Renić A, Banković J, Tanić N, Marković I, Vajs V, Tešević V. Jatrophane diterpenoids from the latex of Euphorbia dendroides and their anti-p-glycoprotein activity in human multi­drug resistant cancer cell lines. Phytochemistry. 2013;86(2):208-17.

Nikolić B, Tešević V, Bojović S, Marin P. Chemotaxonomic implications of the n-alkane composition and the nonacosan-10-ol content in Picea omorika, Pinus heldreichii, and Pinus peuce. Chem Biodivers. 2013;10(4):677-85.

Nikolić B, Tešević V, Đorđević I, Todosijević M, Jadranin M, Bojović S, Marin P. Variability of n-alkanes and nonacosan-10-ol in natural populations of Picea omorika. Chem Biodivers. 2013;10(3):473-81.

Smith AR, Tutin TG. Euphorbia L. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Moore DM, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA, editors. Flora Europaea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1968. p. 213-26.

Sigma-Aldrich® [Internet]. Missouri: Sigma-Aldrich Corporation; c 2018. Technical Literature for Derivatization Reagents; [cited 2018 Jun 1]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: Sigma-Aldrich®. St. Louis, Missouri. Sigma-Aldrich Corporation. Technical Literature for Derivatization Reagents [Internet]. Available from: https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/content/dam/sigma-aldrich/docs/Aldrich/General_Information/bstfa_tmcs.pdf

Van Den Dool H, Kratz PD. A generalization of the retention index system including linear temperature programmed gas-liquid partition chromatography. J Chromatogr A. 1963;11:463-71.

Bray EE, Evans ED. Distribution of n-paraffins as a clue to recognition of source beds. Geochim Cosmochim Ac. 1961;22(1):2-15.

Poynter J, Eglinton G. Molecular Composition of Three Sediments from Hole 717C: The Bengal Fan. In: Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program; 1987 Jul 2–Aug 19; Colombo, Sri Lanka. College Station (Texas): Texas A & M University; c1990. p. 155-61.

Perry BA. Chromosome number relationships in the genus Euphorbia. Chron Bot. 1943; 7:413-4.

Ponsinet G, Ourisson G. Études chimiotaxonomiques dans la famille des Euphorbiacées-I. Phytochemistry. 1965;4:799-811.

Ponsinet G, Ourisson G. Études chimiotaxonomiques dans la famille des Euphobiacées-III. Phytochemistry. 1968;7:89-98.

Hegnauer R. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen: Eine Übersicht über die Verbreitung und die systematische Bedeutung der Pflanzenstoffe. Basel (Switzerland): Birkhäuser; 1966. Euphorbiaceae; p.103. German

Daknley-Gibbs R. Chemotaxonomy of flowering plants. Vol. 3, Orders. Montreal (Canada): McGill-Queens University Press; 1974. 1343-7 p.

Anton K. Étude chimiotaxonomique sur le genre Euphorbia. [dissertation]. Strasbourg (France): Louis Pasteur University; 1974. 184 p. French

Evans FJ, Kinghorn AD. A comparative phytochemical study of the diterpenes of some species of the genera Euphorbia and Elaeophorbia (Euphorbiaceae). Bot J Linn Soc. 1977;74(1):23-35.

Webster GL. The genera of Euphorbiaceae in the southeastern United States. J Arnold Arbor. 1967;48(4):363-430.

Acharya H, Radhakrishnaiah M. Some observations on the chemotaxonomy of Euphorbia. Acta Bot Ind. 1997;25:219-22.

Seigler DS. Phytochemistry and systematics of the Euphorbiaceae. Ann Missouri Bot Gard. 1994;81(2):380-401.

Hemmers H, Gülz PG. Epicuticular waxes from leaves of five Euphorbia species. Phytochemistry. 1986;25(9):2103-7.


  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.