Linalool is a naturally-occurring terpene alcohol chemical found in many flowers and spice plants with many commercial applications, the majority of which are based on its pleasant scent (floral, with a touch of spiciness). It has other names such as β-linalool, linalyl alcohol, linaloyl oxide, p-linalool, allo-ocimenol and 2,6-dimethyl-2,7-octadien-6-ol.
Over 200 species of plants produce linalool, mainly from the families Lamiaceae (mints, scented herbs), Lauraceae (laurels, cinnamon, rosewood) and Rutaceae (citrus fruits), but also birch trees and other plants, from tropical to boreal climate zones. It was also found in some fungi.
Linalool has a chiral center at C3
and therefore two stereoisomers: licareol
is (R)-(+)-linalool with CAS No. 126–90–9 (PubChem 67179) and coriandrol
is (S)-(–)-linalool with CAS No. 126–91–0 (PubChem 13562).
Both enantiomeric forms are found in nature: S-linalool is found, for example, as a major constituent of the essential oils of coriander (Coriandrum sativum L. family Apiaceae) seed, palmarosa [Cymbopogon martinii var martinii (Roxb.) Wats., family Poaceae], and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis Osbeck, family Rutaceae) flowers. R-linalool is present in lavender (Lavandula officinalis Chaix, family Lamiaceae), laurel (Laurus nobilis, family Lauraceae), and sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum, family Lamiaceae), among others.
Each enantiomer evokes different neural responses in humans, and therefore are anthropophilically classified as possessing distinct scents. 3S-(+)-linalool is perceived as sweet, floral, petitgrain-like (odour threshold 7.4 ppb) and the 3R-form as more woody and lavender-like (odour threshold 0.8 ppb)
In higher plants linalool as other monoterpenoids is produced from isopentenyl pyrophosphate via the universal isoprenoid intermediate geranyl pyrophosphate, through a class of membrane-bound enzymes named monoterpene synthases. One of these, linalool synthase (LIS), has been reported to produce (S)-linalool in several floral tissues.
In addition to its use as a scent in domestic products such as soap, detergent, shampoo, and lotion, linalool is also used as a chemical intermediate
. One common downstream product of linalool is Vitamin E
. Linalool, is also used by pest professionals as a flea, and cockroach insecticide
Linalool should be avoided by people with perfume allergy.
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- Pengelly, Andrew. The Constituents of Medicinal Plants. 2nd Ed. 2004. CABI Publishing, U.S.A. and UK.
- Raguso RA, Pichersky E (1999) A day in the life of a linalool molecule: chemical communication in a plant-pollinator system. Part 1: linalool biosynthesis in flowering plants. Plant Species Biol 14:95-120