Evaluation of Tea Tree Oil Quality and Ascaridole: A Deep Study by Means of Chiral and Multi Heart-Cuts Multidimensional Gas Chromatography System Coupled to Mass Spectrometry Detection

J Chromatogr A. 2010 Oct 8;1217(41):6422-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2010.08.019. Epub 2010 Aug 13.


The natural-like assessment of essential oils is a demanding task due to the growing trend toward adulterations. Usually chiral chromatography was used for this purpose due to the capability of assessing stereospecificity which is directly related to the enzymatic pathways of each plant species. On the other hand, the quality of an essential oil involves also the evaluation of its oxidative state, mainly connected with the age and storage conditions. In fact, some modifications in the chemical profile of the oil can occur if not properly preserved. Alterations of the components due to oxidative reactions lead to the formation of peroxides, endoperoxides and epoxides, such as ascaridole and 1,2,4-trihydroxymenthane, usually present in very low amount, formed by the oxidation of terpinen-4-ol and α-terpinene, respectively. Therefore, in the present research, the quality of Australian Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden & Betche) Cheel, Myrtaceae) was investigated by means of a multi heart-cut multidimensional gas chromatographic system coupled to a mass spectrometer detector and by conventional enantio-GC. The MDGC system allowed the complete separation of the compounds of interest transferred from the first column to a second dimension based on a different separation mechanism. The MS detector at the end of the second column provided the identification of the peaks with high similarity values because of their high purities after the multidimensional separation. Method validation was carried out, in order to use this procedure for routine application, monitoring the repeatability of 1D retention times and 2D peak areas, LoD and LoQ. Finally, enantiomeric ratios for chiral compounds were established to support quality data obtained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry*
  • Peroxides / chemistry*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Tea Tree Oil / chemistry*
  • Terpenes / chemistry


  • Cyclohexane Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Peroxides
  • Terpenes
  • ascaridole
  • Tea Tree Oil