, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1708–1720 | Cite as

Tomato fruit volatile profiles are highly dependent on sample processing and capturing methods

  • Jose L. RamblaEmail author
  • Cristina Alfaro
  • Aurora Medina
  • Manuel Zarzo
  • Jaime Primo
  • Antonio Granell
Original Article


Volatile compounds are together with sugars and organic acids the main determinants of tomato fruit flavour and are therefore important for consumer acceptance. Consequently, in the last years many studies have been performed using different volatile analytical techniques on a large diversity of tomato fruits, aimed mainly at detecting the compounds affecting flavour or at the identification of QTLs and key genes involved in fruit volatile contents. The comparison of three of the analytical methods most commonly applied (headspace, solid phase microextraction, adsorption on Tenax followed by thermal desorption) revealed not only differences in sensitivity, but also dramatic variations in the volatile profile obtained by each of these techniques. The volatile profile was also largely influenced by the way samples were processed before analysis. Four widely used sample processing methods were compared (whole tomato, sliced fruit and two different types of fruit paste), each one producing a characteristic volatile pattern. Therefore, great care should be taken when comparing results available from the literature obtained by means of different methods, or when using the volatile levels obtained in an experiment to predict their influence on tomato flavor or consumer preference, or to assess the success of breeding programs.


Tomato fruit Volatile Flavour Solid phase microextraction Headspace Thermal desorption 



We thank Rafael Fernández for providing excellent tomato fruits for this study. Funding to AG was provided through CALITOM and ESPSOL from FECYT and EUSOL (EU FP7 program) and Quality Fruit FA 1106.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Jose Luis Rambla, Cristina Alfaro, Aurora Medina, Manuel Zarzo, Jaime Primo and Antonio Granell declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects.

Supplementary material

11306_2015_824_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (103 kb)
Supplementary material 1 Table S1. Relative abundance of volatile compounds after different capturing methods. Footnote. Values represent the contribution of each individual compound related to the sum of the areas of all the peaks in the chromatogram, expressed as a percentage. RT, Retention Time (min); Kovats RI, Kovats Retention Index; m/z, specific ion used for compound quantitation; nd, not detected. (PPTX 103 kb)
11306_2015_824_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (80 kb)
Supplementary material 2 Figure S1. Representative Total Ion Chromatograms (TIC) obtained by each of the capturing methods used. Chromatograms are scaled to the highest peak (100 %). Numbers on the top right of each chromatogram indicate the absolute height (counts) as registered by the detector for the highest peak. In order to facilitate visual alignment of chromatograms, the peak corresponding to (Z)-3-hexenal + hexanal has been marked with an asterisk. (PPTX 80 kb)
11306_2015_824_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
Supplementary material 3 Figure S2. Representative Total Ion Chromatograms (TIC) obtained by each of the sample processing methods used. Chromatograms are scaled to the highest peak (100 %). Numbers on the top right of each chromatogram indicate the absolute height (counts) as registered by the detector for the highest peak (XLSX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose L. Rambla
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristina Alfaro
    • 2
  • Aurora Medina
    • 1
  • Manuel Zarzo
    • 3
  • Jaime Primo
    • 2
  • Antonio Granell
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, CSICUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Ecología Química Agrícola, Instituto Agroforestal MediterráneoUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaValenciaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Estadística e Investigación Operativa Aplicadas y CalidadUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaValenciaSpain

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