Genetic resources of aromatic plants from Brazil.
Brazil is an important player in the essential oil world market, being the fourth largest producer, after India, China, and Indonesia. Most of this commercial standing is due to the citrus essential oils, since they are a byproduct of the large Brazilian orange juice industry. A few native aromatic species have been recognized as priority for germplasm conservation, and some of these are described in this paper. Among them, we can mention rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora var. amazonica), sacaca (Croton cajucara), canela de cunhã (Croton aff. zehnneri), priprioca (Cyperus articulatus), sassafras (Ocotea odorifera), long pepper (Piper hispidinervum), alecrim pimenta (Lippia sidoides), and candeia (Eremanthus erythropappus). Some exotic and cultivated species are also important, mainly in the south and southeast Brazil, such as chamomile (Chamomila recutita), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinallis), Japanese mint (Mentha arvensis), and ginger (Zingiber officinale). This paper illustrates some of the vast potential of Brazilian aromatic flora. Very few germplasm collections have been established in Brazil. Most of them consist of a large number of species, with few accessions. It is an enormous task to establish a program for genetic resource conservation of these species, which requires multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaboration. These collections will have an important role in the future, providing genetic material for chemical characterization, breeding of new crops, improving our understanding of secondary metabolism, and in preserving an important part of our cultural and national heritage.