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Characterization of Essential Oils from Northern Environments

This project is part of the Université Laval / Université Côte-d'Azur research partnership.


Principal investigators

Xavier Fernandez, Normand Voyer


Stéphane Boudreau


Daniel Grenier


Northern ecosystem dynamics is changing in response to climate change at the fastest pace ever observed in the modern era. Changes to the ecosystem’s vertical structure associated with shrub expansion have tremendous consequences on physical and biotic environments. Therefore, understanding the interplay between plant and microorganim species in this new climatic context is essential to predict future changes and to develop strategies to mitigate the impacts on these ecosystems. On the other hand, plant phytochemicals and secondary metabolites constitute quintessential components of food providing substances essentials for health of humans and mammals. Of utmost importance, their production and concentration represent also unique indicators of plants health and response to environmental factors and stresses such as light, temperature, pollutants, and microorganisms. Hence, phytochemical and essential oil investigations can contribute to improve knowledge, monitor change, and predict future outcomes of several plants and lichens highly valuable for the Northern communities and ecosystems in general. In addition, they can lead to identification of unique natural products having useful biological activities.

This transdisciplinary project takes advantage of the complementary expertise of plant biologists, natural product chemists and microbiologists to select, collect, and perform detailed analyses of model plants essential oils that are of importance for Northern ecosystems and that have been scarcely or never studied before. In addition to providing novel information on the interplay between plant species in the actual climatic context, the project will produce a collection of northern plant essential oils that could be used as fragrances and aromas for the cosmetic, perfume, and food industries. In addition, essential oils will also be tested for their antimicrobial activity against pathogens related to oral health, which is of great interest to the Northern communities.