What Is Farnesene? An Overview of the Natural Compound

What Is Farnesene? An Overview of the Natural Compound

Jan 30, 2024

Welcome to a comprehensive exploration of farnesene, a natural compound with intriguing properties.

In this overview, we delve into the essence of farnesene, shedding light on its characteristics, uses, and significance in various fields.

Chemical Properties and Synthesis

Farnesene is a sesquiterpene hydrocarbon and has a molecular formula of C15H24. It exists in two isomeric forms, α-farnesene and β-farnesene, which differ in the position of the double bond in the molecule.

Isomers and Double Bonds

α-farnesene has a double bond located on the third carbon atom from the end of the molecule, while β-farnesene has a double bond located on the second carbon atom from the end of the molecule.

These isomers have different chemical and biological properties, which make them useful in various applications.

Biosynthesis and Metabolic Engineering

Farnesene is synthesized in plants through the mevalonate pathway, which is a metabolic pathway involved in the production of isoprenoids.

Additionally, Farnesene Synthase is the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of farnesene from two precursors, dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) and farnesyl diphosphate (FPP).

Metabolic engineering has been used to produce farnesene in microorganisms such as E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This involves the introduction of genes encoding farnesene synthase and the modification of central carbon metabolism to increase the flux of precursors such as acetoacetyl-CoA.

Agricultural and Ecological Significance

Farnesene is a key component of the alarm pheromone produced by aphids, which serves as a warning signal to other aphids in the area.

This pheromone can also attract predators of aphids, such as ladybugs, which can help control aphid populations in agricultural settings. Farnesene has also been found in some essential oils and can be used as a natural insect repellent.

Therapeutic and Industrial Uses

Farnesene exhibits anti-inflammatory and calming properties, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic agent for anxiety and sleep disorders. With additional antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-fungal traits, it emerges as a promising ingredient for cosmetics and personal care products.

Moreover, farnesene finds utility as a biofuel and lubricant component. Present in certain cannabis strains, particularly indica varieties, it may contribute to their sedative and muscle relaxant effects, though further research is warranted for a comprehensive understanding.

Studies also explore farnesene's oral health benefits, inhibiting bacteria linked to tooth decay, and potential digestive perks, easing flatulence and cramps. Yet, its full therapeutic potential awaits further investigation.

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