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Journal of the science of food and agriculture

Carotenoid content impacts flavor acceptability in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum).


PMID 20661902

Abstract

Tomatoes contain high levels of several carotenoids including lycopene and β-carotene. Beyond their functions as colorants and nutrients, carotenoids are precursors for important volatile flavor compounds. In order to assess the importance of apocarotenoid volatiles in flavor perception and acceptability, we conducted sensory evaluations of near-isogenic carotenoid biosynthetic mutants and their parent, Ailsa Craig. The carotenoid contents of these tomatoes were extremely low in the r mutant, increased in lycopene in old gold, and higher in tetra-cis-lycopene and ζ-carotene in tangerine. The volatiles derived from these carotenoids (β-ionone, geranylacetone and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one) were proportionally altered relative to their precursors. Fruits were also analyzed for soluble solids, sugars, acids and flavor volatiles. Consumer panels rated the r mutant lowest for all sensory attributes, while Ailsa Craig was generally rated highest. Old gold and tangerine were rated intermediate in two of the three harvests. Several chemicals were negatively correlated with at least one of the hedonic scores while several others were positively correlated with tomato flavor acceptability. The results permitted identification of positive and negative interactions of volatiles with tomato flavor.

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