Uses and chemical reactions
Guaiacol is a precursor to various flavorants, such as eugenol and vanillin. An estimated 85% of the world's supply of vanillin comes from guaiacol. The route entails condensation of glyoxylic acid with guaiacol to give mandelic acid, which is oxidized to produce a phenylglyoxylic acid. This acid undergoes a decarboxylation to afford vanillin.
As a pheromone
Guaiacol is produced in the gut of desert locusts, Schistocerca gregaria, by the breakdown of plant material. This process is undertaken by the gut bacterium Pantoea agglomeransa (Enterobacter). It is one of the main components of the pheromones that cause locust swarming.
Methoxyphenols are potential biomarkers of biomass smoke exposure, such as from inhalation of woodsmoke. Dietary sources of methoxyphenols overwhelm the contribution from inhalational exposures to woodsmoke.