Comparative characterization of Santolina insularis chemotypes by essential oil composition, 5S-rRNA-NTS sequencing and EcoRV RFLP-PCR
Santolina insularis (Genn ex Fiori) Arrig. is a medicinal plant whose essential oil shows antiviral and antibacterial activities and potent and selective cytotoxic activity against the human colon carcinoma cell line. The occurrence of several chemotypes makes the taxonomic identification of S. insularis hard to achieve. GC–MS essential oil analyses of four chemotypes (SI1, SI2, SI3 and SI4) revealed the presence of different percentages of santolina triene, β-pinene, myrcene, β-phellandrene, artemisia ketone and cis -chrysanthemol, allowing a chemical discrimination. Single fragments of the 5S-rRNA-NTS region of approximately 150, 170, 260 and 280 bp were produced by SI1, SI2, SI3 and SI4, respectively, and the sequence alignment of the 5S-rRNA spacer region flanked by the 3′-and 5′-ends of the coding region confirmed a consistent difference between chemotypes. Furthermore, a PCR-RFLP method was applied. From the identified sequences, an Eco RV site could be found in chemotypes SI1, SI2 and SI3 in the 5S-rRNA spacer regions at 81 bp position; however, this site was absent in the chemotype SI4. This study, by showing remarkable chemical variation in the terpenoid profile and consistent genomic difference in the 5S-rRNA spacer regions, identified four chemotypes of S. insularis which could be grouped into two ecotypes, based on chemical and genomic analyses. The identification of specific gene sequences of the 5S-rRNA-NTS region and of a Eco RV site identified in this work can be used for a rapid and precise identification of the plant chemo-/ecotypes, complementing the essential oil chemical analysis.