AJPS  Vol.12 No.7 , July 2021
Genetic Variability and Elite Line Selection for High Essential Oil and Nepetalactone Content in Catmint (Nepeta cataria L.)
Abstract: Nepeta cataria L., commonly known as catmint or catnip, belongs to the family Lamiaceae and is indigenous to Europe and Asia. The essential oil of this species is known for the richness and diversity of nepetalactones (NPL) which are used as mosquito/insect repellents in perfumery and cosmetic industries. Reports on Indian catmint germplasm are very meager and warrants exploration of its commercial potential as a natural, non-toxic source of insect repellents. With this objective, commercial open-pollinated seeds of catmint collected from its native, temperate habitat in Himalayas were introduced in the tropical plains. Subsequent to adaptation to a new zone we were able to isolate nineteen individual plants based on plant growth. Hydrodistillation of the fresh herb yielded essential oil in the range of 0.01% to 0.2%. Gas Chromatography (GC) and GC-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses of the oil revealed the dominance of monoterpene hydrocarbon, namely, 4aα,7α,7aα NPL (1) isomer (84%). The other two isomers of nepetalactone, 4aα,7α,7aβ NPL (2) and 4aα,7β,7aα NPL (3) were also present, although in very less amounts (1.0% and 1.6%, respectively). Sesquiterpenes identified were α-humulene (traces), (E)-caryophyllene (0.6%) and caryophyllene oxide (1.7%). We compared the identified Indian catmint chemotype with the other oils from temperate, sub-tropical and tropical locations based on literature search. The Indian chemotype was found to be similar to the oils from Burundi, France, Turkey, UK and USA, mainly due to more accumulation of 4aα,7α,7aα NPL (1) isomer. These oils grouped together in Principal Component Analysis. Breeding lines are presently being developed to improve yield related traits in this plant. Multidisciplinary R&D efforts along with setting up industry related guidelines are required to successfully commercialize catmint cultivation. Several species of Nepeta genus have high nepetalactone content too and their potential as a commercial source of these isomers still needs to be explored.
Cite this paper: Srivastava, A. , Gupta, S. , Singh, S. , Verma, R. , Srivastava, R. , Gupta, A. and Lal, R. (2021) Genetic Variability and Elite Line Selection for High Essential Oil and Nepetalactone Content in Catmint (Nepeta cataria L.). American Journal of Plant Sciences, 12, 1135-1154. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2021.127079.

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