Formation of (E)-nerolidol in tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves exposed to multiple stresses during tea manufacturing

Food Chem. 2017 Sep 15:231:78-86. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.03.122. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


(E)-Nerolidol is a volatile sesquiterpene that contributes to the floral aroma of teas (Camellia sinensis). The unique manufacturing process for oolong tea involves multiple stresses, resulting in a high content of (E)-nerolidol, which is not known to form in tea leaves. This study aimed to determine the formation mechanism of (E)-nerolidol in tea exposed to multiple stresses during tea manufacture. C. sinensis (E)-nerolidol synthase (CsNES) recombinant protein, found in the cytosol, was found to transform farnesyl diphosphate into (E)-nerolidol. CsNES was highly expressed during the oolong tea turn over process, resulting in (E)-nerolidol accumulation. Continuous mechanical damage, simulating the turn over process, significantly enhanced CsNES expression level and (E)-nerolidol content. The combination of low temperature stress and mechanical damage had a synergistic effect on (E)-nerolidol formation. This is the first evidence of (E)-nerolidol formation mechanism in tea leaves and a characteristic example of plant volatile formation in response to dual stresses.

Keywords: Aroma; Camellia sinensis; Nerolidol; Tea; Terpene synthase; Volatile.

MeSH terms

  • Camellia sinensis
  • Plant Leaves*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sesquiterpenes*
  • Tea / chemistry*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tea
  • nerolidol