Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 10, 2020

Intraspecific variability of quantity and chemical composition of ethanolic knotwood extracts along the stems of three industrially important softwood species: Abies alba, Picea abies and Pseudotsuga menziesii

Maree Brennan ORCID logo, David Hentges, Sylvain Cosgun, Stéphane Dumarcay, Francis Colin, Christine Gérardin and Philippe Gérardin
From the journal Holzforschung


Knotwood of softwood species is rich in secondary metabolites, especially lignans. These metabolites can be extracted with organic solvents, and are known to be valuable sources of natural bioactive molecules. Here, we examine the intraspecific variability of the yield and compositions of ethanol extracts from knotwood along the stems of three economically significant softwoods Abies alba, Picea abies and Pseudotsuga menziesii in view of further valorisation. Extractive yields from all three species were higher from knots at the base of the living crown than at the top. Lignans and terpenes were abundant in A. alba and P. abies extracts, and lignans were present in the highest concentrations at the crown base. Secoisolariciresinol and hydroxymatairesinol were the most abundant lignans in A. alba and P. abies, respectively. P. menziesii extract composition was more diverse than those of the other species, containing taxifolin, small amounts of the lignan nortrachelogenin, and smaller amounts of secoisolariciresinol. A cyclitol, D-pinitol, was found in high concentrations in extracts from knots at the very top of the crown, particularly in A. alba and P. menziesii. Lignans, taxifolin and D-pinitol are reported to have anti-tumour properties, and valuable food-supplement markets exist for these compounds suggesting possibilities of further valorisation.

Corresponding author: Philippe Gérardin, Université de Lorraine, INRAE, LERMAB, F-54000Nancy, France, E-mail:

Funding source: French National Research Agency

Funding source: French Ministery of Agriculture


The authors warmly thank Antoine Billard, Rodolphe Bauer, Fleur Longuetaud and Frederic Mothe who did the sampling, and Adrien Contini, Antoine Sarrouille and Coline Lebreton for technical support. Further thanks to ONF (the French National Forest Service) and Christine Deleuze who provided the material from the forests; including Emila Akroume and Anthony Masanthe who provided the material from the Saint-Prix forest, Lucie Arnoudet and Alexandre Durin who provided the material from the Mas Dorier forest and Jean Ladier who provided the material from the Mélagues forest.

  1. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  2. Research funding: The UMR 1434 SILVA and EA 4370 LERMAB are supported by a grant overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d’Avenir” program (ANR-11-LABX-0002-01, Lab of Excellence ARBRE) in the frame of the project “BARK-TAN-BIO” included in the wider project “EXTRAFOREST” supported in addition by the French Ministry of Agriculture, the Lorraine-FEDER, ADEME and Grand-Est Region. The authors gratefully acknowledge the Lab of Excellence ARBRE for the post-doctoral fellowship granted to the first author.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


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Received: 2020-04-24
Accepted: 2020-06-18
Published Online: 2020-08-10
Published in Print: 2021-02-23

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