Seeds, leaves and stems of six populations of two Echium species (Family Boraginaceae) from Iran were surveyed for the first time in a search for new sources of γ-linolenic acid (GLA, C18:3ω6), stearidonic acid (SDA, 18:4ω3) and other unsaturated fatty acids. Oils from the corresponding organs were analyzed by gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for total oil content and fatty acid composition. The range of total oil content varied between 0.7% in stems of Echium amoenum, Behshahr population to 33.8% in seeds of E. amoenum, Ramsar population. The amounts of GLA ranged from 2.28% of total fatty acids in E. amoenum stems (Behshahr population) to 9.79% in Echium italicum seeds (Kaleybar population). In addition, considerable amounts of SDA were detected, with the highest values of 10.47 and 12.45% in seeds of E. italicumfrom Boumehen and Kaleybar populations, respectively. Other main unsaturated fatty acid components in the oils were α- linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3ω3) and linoleic acid (LA, C18:2ω6) with the highest amounts of 44.15 and 26.94% in E. amoenum seeds from Hezar Jarib and Behshahr populations, respectively. This data allows us to evaluate Iranian members ofEchium genus as alternative wild sources of valuable unsaturated fatty acids for commercial purposes.
Key words: Boraginaceae, Echium, fatty acids, γ-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid, gas chromatography.
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