, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 183-198
Date: 10 Feb 2009

Proton NMR quantitative profiling for quality assessment of greenhouse-grown tomato fruit

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Tomato is an essential crop in terms of economic importance and nutritional quality. In France, the third most important region for tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production is Aquitaine where the major part of production is now grown soilless under greenhouse conditions with harvest from March to November. Tomato fruit quality at harvest is a direct function of its metabolite content at that time. The aim of this work was to use a global approach to characterize changes in the fruit organoleptic quality at harvest under commercial culture conditions during an entire season for two varieties and two different fertilization practices (with or without recycling of the nutrient solution) for one variety. Absolute quantification data of 32 major compounds in fruit without seeds were obtained through untargeted (proton nuclear magnetic resonance, 1H-NMR) quantitative profiling. These data were complemented by colorimetric analysis of ascorbate and total phenolics. They were analyzed with chemometric approaches. Principal component analysis (PCA) or partial least square analyses (PLS) revealed more discriminant metabolites for season than for variety and showed that nutrient solution recycling had very little effect on fruit composition. These tendencies were confirmed with univariate analyses. 1H-NMR profiling complemented with colorimetric analyses therefore provided a diagnostic tool to follow the changes in organoleptic and nutritional quality of tomato. In addition the quantitative information generated will help to increase our knowledge on the mechanisms of plant response to environmental modifications.