Garden sage (Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) is one of the most important medicinal and aromatic plants and possesses antioxidant, antimicrobial, spasmolytic, astringent, antihidrotic and specific sensorial properties. The essential oil of the plant, formed mainly in very young leaves, is in part responsible for these activities. It is mainly composed of the monoterpenes 1,8-cineole, α- and β-thujone and camphor synthesized by the 1,8-cineole synthase, the (+)-sabinene synthase and the (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase, respectively, and is produced and stored in epidermal glands. In this study, the seasonal influence on the formation of the main monoterpenes in young, still expanding leaves of field-grown sage plants was studied in two cultivars at the level of mRNA expression, analyzed by qRT-PCR, and at the level of end-products, analyzed by gas chromatography. All monoterpene synthases and monoterpenes were significantly influenced by cultivar and season. 1,8-Cineole synthase and its end product 1,8-cineole remained constant until August and then decreased slightly. The thujones increased steadily during the vegetative period. The transcript level of their corresponding terpene synthase, however, showed its maximum in the middle of the vegetative period and declined afterwards. Camphor remained constant until August and then declined, exactly correlated with the mRNA level of the corresponding terpene synthase. In summary, terpene synthase mRNA expression and respective end product levels were concordant in the case of 1,8-cineole (r=0.51 and 0.67 for the two cultivars, respectively; p<0.05) and camphor (r=0.75 and 0.82; p<0.05) indicating basically transcriptional control, but discordant for α-/β-thujone (r=-0.05 and 0.42; p=0.87 and 0.13, respectively).
Alkyl and Aryl Transferases/genetics* Alkyl and Aryl Transferases/metabolism Camphor/metabolism Cyclohexanols/metabolism Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic/genetics* Gene Expression Regulation, Plant/genetics* Monoterpenes/chemistry Monoterpenes/metabolism* Plant Leaves/enzymology Plant Leaves/genetics Plant Leaves/metabolism Plants, Medicinal RNA, Messenger/genetics RNA, Plant/genetics Regression Analysis Salvia officinalis/enzymology* Salvia officinalis/genetics Salvia officinalis/metabolism Seasons*