Chemistry and Technology of Aromatic Plants

NAME OF THE COURSE Chemistry and Technology of Aromatic Plants



Year of study


Course teacher

Prof Igor Jerković

Credits (ECTS)


Associate teachers

Type of instruction (number of hours)






Status of the course


Percentage of application of e-learning

0 %


Course objectives

Acquisition of basic knowledge on the chemistry and technology of aromatic plants, knowledge of the structures of organic compounds typical for the essential oils, their division and useful properties, knowledge on the biosynthesis of essential oils and methods of their isolation and identification of the oil components.

Course enrolment requirements and entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes expected at the level of the course (4 to 10 learning outcomes)

After passing the course, students will be able to:
- describe the basic concepts, essential oils, aromatic plants processing procedures, analyses of isolates obtained and typical use of essential oils
- illustrate the ways of smell perception, the biosynthesis of terpenes and other compounds of essential oils, the basic division of terpenes
- demonstrate basic procedures in the processing of aromatic plants, simple method for isolation of essential oils and aromatic extracts preparation
- determine the appropriate method of analysis of derived isolates (basic physical and chemical values, the application of chromatographic and spectroscopic methods)
- propose suitable procedures for the processing of aromatic plants, taking into account the fundamental principles of distillation and extraction procedures, the analysis of obtained isolates considering the possibility of artefacts formation as well as structural / biosynthetic relationship between the isolated compounds
- choose the correct chemical approach for solving problems in the field of chemistry and technology of aromatic plants, starting from the acquired knowledge from organic chemistry and biochemistry

Course content broken down in detail by weekly class schedule (syllabus)

Introduction to aromatic plants and essential oils - definition, historical development of isolation and research of the essential oils. (3 hours); Natural, natural identical and synthetic essential oils; chemical structures of molecules and smell; activating receptors of smell: ion channels and G-proteins; essential oils in plants, plant formations for storage of the essential oils, chemotaxonomy and chemotypes of essential oils (3 hours).
Chemical composition of the essential oils: terpenes, isoprene rule, division, cyclic and acyclic structures of mono- and sesquiterpenes; phenylpropanoic derivatives and other compounds in the essential oils (3 hours); Chirality and structures of terpenes; glycosidically bound volatile compounds; the basic structure of glycones and aglycones of the glycosides of volatile compounds; Biogenesis of 3-IPP via mevalonic acid; biogenesis 3-IPP over deoxyxylulose phosphate (DXP) (3 hours); Biogenetic isoprene rule - the precursors of terpenes (GPP, FPP, GGPP); biogenesis semiterpenes, acyclic and cyclic mono-and sesquiterpenes. (3 hours)
Processing of aromatic plants: drying and storage; general overview of the methods of isolation and concentration of the essential oils; rate of distillation – hydrodiffusion; hydrolysis and decomposition of labile components of essential oils (3 hours); Hydrodistillation, water-vapour and steam distillation in the laboratory and in industry; comparison of water, water-steam and steam distillation (3 hours); Extraction with organic solvents, extraction with cold and hot fat; overview of the types of the obtained aromatic extracts; extraction with sub-and supercritical fluids (CO2, H2O); microwave extraction; simultaneous distillation-extraction (3 hours); Comparison of conventional and new extraction techniques; fractionation of the essential oils; basic physical and chemical values of the essential oils; chromatographic techniques in the analysis of essential oil (3 hours)
TLC and GC analysis of the essential oil, detectors (FID and MS), types of columns, sample preparation for the analysis of essential oil, retention time and the index, an overlap of peaks and fractionation of essential oils (pre-treatment) (3 hours); Modern chromatographic techniques in the analysis of essential oils: chiral GC, HSGC, MDGC, 2DGC; GC-MS; MS (SIM SCAN technique) - identification of terpenes and phenylpropane derivatives via MS (6 hours)
Overview of common essential oils - chemical composition and application (6 hours); the use of essential oils; mechanism of antibacterial and antioxidant activity; the structure of biologically active compounds of essential oils; undesirable effects of the essential oils (3 hours)

Format of instruction:

Student responsibilities

Students are required to attend classes (lectures and seminars) and actively participate in the teaching process, which will be evaluated in the final assessment by the weight coefficient of 5%.

Screening student work (name the proportion of ECTS credits for eachactivity so that the total number of ECTS credits is equal to the ECTS value of the course):

Class attendance




Practical training


Experimental work








Seminar essay






Oral exam




Written exam






Grading and evaluating student work in class and at the final exam

Students can take two partial tests during the lectures. If not pass partial tests, students will be evaluated by written exam. Rating at partial tests and the final examination is formed as follows: 51-60% sufficient (2); 61-75% good (3); 76-88% very good (4); 89-100% excellent (5). The total score is formed by summing all activities (for each activity % success multiply weigh coefficient): 5% x the presence and activity in lectures and seminars + 10% x success in experimental work + 43% x performance on the first test + 42% x performance on the second test.

Required literature (available in the library and via other media)


Number of copies in the library

Availability via other media

K. H. Basser, G. Buchbauer, Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology and Application, CRC Press, 2010


E. Guenther, The Essential Oils, vol. I: History – Origin in Plants – Production – Analysis, Jepson Press, 2008


Igor Jerković, Predlošci za predavanja iz Kemije i tehnologije aromatičnog bilja, KTF, 2014.


web stranica KTF-a

Optional literature (at the time of submission of study programme proposal)

R. P. Adams, Identification of essential oils by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, Allured Publishing Corporation, 2007
E. Guenther, The Essential Oils, vol. II-VI, van Nostrand Co, Princeton, 1964.

Quality assurance methods that ensure the acquisition of exit competences

Quality assurance will be performed at three levels:
(1) University Level;
(2) Faculty Level by Quality Control Committee;
(3) Lecturer’s Level.

Other (as the proposer wishes to add)