Publications serve as the concrete art form for the scientist. It is his modus operandi. Authorship is akin to success and achievement. It cannot and should not deteriorate into a bargaining tool or commodity. Dardik
Tankeu, S., Vermaak, I., Kamatou, G.P.P., Viljoen, A.M. 2014. Vibrational spectroscopy as a rapid quality control method for Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (Tea Tree Oil). Phytochemical Analysis 25: 81–88.
Introduction - Tea tree oil (TTO) is an important commercial oil which has found application in the flavour, fragrance and cosmetic industries. The quality is determined by the relative concentration of its major constituents 1,8-cineole, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, α-terpinene, terpinolene, γ-terpinene and limonene. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC–MS) is traditionally used for qualitative and quantitative analyses but is expensive and time-consuming.

Aim - To evaluate the use of vibrational spectroscopy in tandem with chemometric data analysis as a fast and low-cost alternative method for the quality control of TTO. Methodology - Spectral data were acquired in both the mid infrared (MIR) and near infrared (NIR) wavelength regions and reference data obtained using GC–MS–FID. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to investigate the data by observing clustering and identifying outliers. Partial least squares (PLS) multivariate calibration models were constructed for the quantification of the seven major constituents.

Results - High correlation coefficients (R2) of ≥ 0.75 were obtained for the seven major compounds and 1,8-cineole showed the best correlation coefficients for both MIR and NIR data (R2= 0.97 and 0.95, respectively). Low values were obtained for the root mean square error of estimation (RMSEE) and root mean square error of prediction (RMSEP) values indicating accuracy.

Conclusion - The accurate prediction of the external dataset after introduction into the models confirmed that both MIR and NIR spectroscopy are valuable methods for quantification of the major compounds of TTO when compared to the reference data obtained with GC-MS.

Tea tree flower - TUT, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa [2010 ©]