Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) is a commonly used flavoring agent and medicinal herb. Several chemotypes of thyme, based on essential oil compositions, have been established, including (1) linalool; (2) borneol; (3) geraniol; (4) sabinene hydrate; (5) thymol; (6) carvacrol, as well as a number of multiple-component chemotypes. In this work, two different T. vulgaris essential oils were obtained from France and two were obtained from Serbia. The chemical compositions were determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. In addition, chiral gas chromatography was used to determine the enantiomeric compositions of several monoterpenoid components. The T. vulgaris oil from Nyons, France was of the linalool chemotype (linalool, 76.2%; linalyl acetate, 14.3%); the oil sample from Jablanicki, Serbia was of the geraniol chemotype (geraniol, 59.8%; geranyl acetate, 16.7%); the sample from Pomoravje District, Serbia was of the sabinene hydrate chemotype (cis-sabinene hydrate, 30.8%; trans-sabinene hydrate, 5.0%); and the essential oil from Richerenches, France was of the thymol chemotype (thymol, 47.1%; p-cymene, 20.1%). A cluster analysis based on the compositions of these essential oils as well as 81 additional T. vulgaris essential oils reported in the literature revealed 20 different chemotypes. This work represents the first chiral analysis of T. vulgaris monoterpenoids and a comprehensive description of the different chemotypes of T. vulgaris.
Keywords: antifungal activity; chiral gas chromatography; enantiomeric distribution; hierarchical cluster analysis; mass spectrometry.