Effects of essential oil treatments on the secondary protein structure of Vicia faba: a mid-infrared spectroscopic study supported by two-dimensional correlation analysis

Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc. 2015 Feb 25:137:90-8. doi: 10.1016/j.saa.2014.08.020. Epub 2014 Aug 24.


In this study we investigated the effects of essential oil treatments on the secondary protein structure of the Vicia faba roots, a bioindicator plant, in order to obtain information for the potential allelopathic uses of these oils as alternative to the use of pesticides in agriculture. We tested two mixtures of essential oils consisting of Tween 20-emulsions of tea tree oil (TTO) and Tween 20-emulsion of Clove and Rosemary (GARROM) essential oils respectively at three different oil concentrations each. The molecular modifications caused in Vicia faba by exposure to oil emulsions were investigated by FTIR spectroscopy in diffuse reflectance (DRIFT) mode. We considered the specific Amide I, Amide II and Amide VI bands by ordinary and second derivative spectroscopy and the results showed that both Tween 20-emulsion of GARROM and Tween 20-emulsion of TTO oils cause transitions among the secondary (α-helix, β-sheet and β-turn) structures with in addition the appearance of random coil structures in exposed samples. The Amide VI bands, placed between 500 and 600 cm(-1), confirmed the structural transitions observed for the Amide I bands. In addition we observed the presence of a protein oxidation effect for TTO treated samples, oxidation which resulted negligible instead for the GARROM oil samples. At last, FTIR spectra were also submitted to two-dimensional correlation analysis (2DCORR) and double two-dimensional correlation analysis (D2DCORR); the results confirmed the different effects caused by the two typologies of essential oils on the secondary protein structures of Vicia faba roots.

Keywords: Essential oils; Protein oxidation; Secondary protein structure; Two-dimensional correlation analysis; Vicia faba.

MeSH terms

  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Vicia faba / chemistry*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Proteins