This work describes the bioconversion of (-)- and (+)-alpha-pinene (2,6,6-trimethyl-bicyclo[3.1.1]hept-2-ene), targeted at the production of (-)- and (+)-verbenone (4,6,6-trimethyl-bicyclo (3.1.1) hept-3-en-2-one), respectively, using Psychotria brachyceras
and Rauvolfia sellowii
cell suspension cultures. P. brachyceras
showed selectivity to (-)-alpha-pinene with 80.9% conversion (relative integrated area gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)) of (-)-verbenone in 10-day-incubation, whereas R. sellowii
was able to convert both pinene enantiomers (37.6% conversion of (-)-verbenone in 7-day-incubation and 32.2% conversion of (+)-verbenone in 10-day-incubation). In both systems trans-verbenol was formed as main product and then slowly biocatalyzed to verbenone. Verbenone were also present among the autoxidation products during control experiments, but in much lower amounts and accompanied by several by-products, highlighting the usefulness of the biotransformation process.