Abstract: Variation in the composition of Origanum majorana L. essential oil (EO) and fatty acids were studied under salt treatment. Plant material has been harvested at 2 phenological stages: early vegetative stage (EVS) and late vegetative stage (LVS) or prefloral. Our results showed that the application of 75 mM NaCl increased total lipid contents in marjoram shoots and caused great qualitative changes in the fatty acids profiles. NaCl treatment reduced and stimulated the EO yields, respectively, at EVS and LVS and induced quantitative changes in the chemical EO composition in shoots. Phenolic contents were higher during the LVS than EVS in the absence and the presence of salt. Under control conditions, RP-HPLC analysis of the methanolic extract of marjoram dried shoots showed a predominance of flavonoid during the EVS whereas phenolic acids predominated during the LVS. However, under 75 mM NaCl, we noted a predominance of flavonoid at LVS and constant levels of phenolic and flavonoid classes at the EVS. For control treatment and at both EVS and LVS, the main components identified were respectively rosmarinic acid gallic as phenolic acids and amentoflavone as flavonoid. In the presence of salt and at the EVS, we observed a significant increase in trans-2 hydrocinnamic, gallic acid and quercetin-3-galactoside contents. However, for the LVS, salt induced a stimulation of gallic acid, apigenin, and amentoflavone. Our results showed that LVS had the highest contents of bioactive compounds, and could be considered as the best stage for harvesting marjoram plants.
Practical Application: In this study, the fatty acid composition, essential oil, and phenolic content of Origanum majorana were investigated. This is important for potential application of marjoram as functional food at the late vegetative stage. The richness of O. majorana in volatile and phenolic active compounds known for their antioxidant, antimicrobial, and insecticidal activities could support the utilization of this plant in a large field of application including cosmetic, pharmaceutical, agro alimentary, and biological defense.