The eucalyptus genus includes more than 800 species. Native of Australia and nearby regions, it is now spread all over the world. Eucalyptus oil represents an important raw material for pharmaceutical, confectionery, and cosmetic industries. The main substance of medicinal oil is 1,8-cineole, and its amount has a great importance in defining the quality of the oil. Some pharmacopeias, such as British and United States, require a 1,8-cineole content to be higher than 70% together with the absence of phellandrene. Numerous authors (Ahmadouche et al., 1985; Boland et al., 1991; Dellacassa et al., 1995; Bignell et al., 1996) have extensively studied the oils of different Eucalyptus species with a special emphasis on the determination of the chemical composition of E. globulus (Chenoufi et al., 1980; Barton et al., 1989; Zrira et al., 1992).
Apart from their pharmaceutical and industrial benefits, plants produce a great variety of organic compounds, most of them being volatile. They emit into the atmosphere about 400 non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), including aldehydes, ketones, organic acids, alcohols, C2-C4 alkenes and alkenes, isoprene, and the C10-C40 terpenes (Olivera et al., 1972; Singh et al., 1986; Bignell et al., 1997). These natural hydrocarbon compounds play an important role in the formation of photochemical oxidants such as ozone and peroxy acetylnitrates (Lelieveld et al., 2008). They are a significant part of the global carbon cycle and contribute by the way of organic acids to acidic deposition in rural and urban areas (Lelieveld et al., 2008). On regional and global scales, these biogenic non-methane organic compound emissions may dominate over anthropogenic emissions (Guenther et al., 1995). Among the variety of organic species, only isoprene and monoterpenes from forests, crops, and pastures have been studied in detail with reference to their high reactivity which controls the OH and NO3 mixing ratio.
In this chapter the analysis of organic compounds was performed both in the essential oils and in the atmospheric emissions of some eucalyptus species growing in Algeria. The results obtained are discussed in the context of plant-atmosphere interactions.
I. Dincer et al. (eds.), Global Warming, Green Energy and Technology,
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1017-2_22, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
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