Molecular and sensory characterization of odorants in Cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.) from different geographic regions

Rahil Ghadiriasli, Mohamed A.A. Mahmoud, Maria Wagenstaller, Jan Willem van de Kuilen, Andrea Buettner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The wood of the Cembran pine (Pinus cembra L.), also known as Swiss pine, Arolla pine or Stone pine, has a prominent and long-lasting odor which has been reported to relieve stress in humans. However, the odorants responsible for this are unknown and it is also unclear whether the odor profile depends on the origin of the trees, namely different geographical regions and pedoclimatic conditions. Therefore, in this study human sensory analyses together with isolation and analysis of the target odorants via solvent-assisted flavor evaporation were performed. Afterwards, comparative odor extract dilution analysis (cOEDA) was applied to investigate the odorous constituents of pinewood samples from forests in Austria and Italy. Specific odorants were thereby identified using one-dimensional and two-dimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/olfactometry using two capillary columns with different polarities (DB-5 and DB-FFAP). In total, 103 odorants were detected with successful identification of 98 of these substances. The identified odorants were predominately monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes as well as organic acids. Several compounds including germacrene D, thymol, carvacrol, rotundone, β-caryophyllene, α-humulene, cinnamaldehyde, and ethyl cinnamate are reported here for the first time as odorous constituents of pinewood. Principal component analysis of the data obtained from sensory evaluation and cOEDA indicated that terpenes and sesquiterpenes were correlated with higher hedonic rates for the wood samples. Moreover, a Mantel test between the geographical distances of the trees and their sensory and cOEDA values demonstrated that the origin of the trees had a significant impact on the sensory characteristics of the wood, in agreement with the differences in the relative proportions of different volatile components. As such, the odor of Cembran pinewood is prone to variation but, yet, unique.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121380
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Gas chromatography-olfactometry
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Odor extract dilution analysis
  • Pinewood
  • Terpene
  • Volatile organic compound


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