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Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seeds of two geographic origins, Tunisia (TCS) and India (ICS), were studied regarding their fatty acid and essential oil composition. Oil yields were 17.77 and 15.40% for TCS and ICS respectively. Petroselinic acid (C18:1n-12) was the major fatty acid in both varieties, with a higher proportion being found in TCS (55.90% of total fatty acids (TFA)) than in ICS (41.42% TFA). Moreover, the most predominant fatty acids were palmitic, petroselenic and linoleic acids, accounting for more than 91% TFA in both varieties. The unsaturated fatty acid content was high: 70.95% TFA in TCS and 62.17% TFA in ICS. Essential oil yields differed significantly (P < 0.05) between the two varieties: 1.21 and 1.62% for ICS and TCS respectively. A total of 40 compounds were identified, 34 of which were present in both essential oils. The two varieties displayed different chemotypes: γ-terpinene/1-phenyl-1,2-ethanediol for TCS and cuminaldheyde/γ-terpinene for ICS. The study revealed that the biochemical composition of cumin seeds is origin-dependent and that cumin seeds are rich in an unusual fatty acid, petroselinic acid. Besides, cumin essential oil is a rich source of many compounds, including cuminaldehyde and γ-terpinene. The overall results suggest the exploitation of cumin seeds as a low-cost renewable source for industrial processing in the fields of cosmetics, perfumes and pharmaceuticals. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry.


Iness Bettaieb, Soumaya Bourgou, Jezia Sriti, Kamel Msaada, Ferid Limam, Brahim Marzouk. Essential oils and fatty acids composition of Tunisian and Indian cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seeds: a comparative study. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 2011 Aug 30;91(11):2100-7

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PMID: 21681765

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