Carotenoid pigmentation affects the volatile composition of tomato and watermelon fruits, as revealed by comparative genetic analyses

J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 20;53(8):3142-8. doi: 10.1021/jf047927t.


Tomato near-isogenic lines differing in fruit carotenogenesis genes accumulated different aroma volatiles, in a strikingly similar fashion as compared to watermelon cultivars differing in fruit color. The major volatile norisoprenoids present in lycopene-containing tomatoes and watermelons were noncyclic, such as geranial, neral, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, 2,6-dimethylhept-5-1-al, 2,3-epoxygeranial, (E,E)-pseudoionone, geranyl acetone, and farnesyl acetone, seemingly derived from lycopene and other noncyclic tetraterpenoids. Beta-ionone, dihydroactinodiolide, and beta-cyclocitral were prominent in both tomato and watermelon fruits containing beta-carotene. Alpha-ionone was detected only in an orange-fleshed tomato mutant that accumulates delta-carotene. A yellow flesh (r) mutant tomato bearing a nonfunctional psy1 gene and the yellow-fleshed watermelon Early Moonbeam, almost devoid of carotenoid fruit pigments, also lacked norisoprenoid derivatives and geranial. This study provides evidence, based on comparative genetics, that carotenoid pigmentation patterns have profound effects on the norisoprene and monoterpene aroma volatile compositions of tomato and watermelon and that in these fruits geranial (trans-citral) is apparently derived from lycopene in vivo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / genetics*
  • Citrullus / chemistry*
  • Citrullus / genetics
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Monoterpenes / analysis
  • Monoterpenes / metabolism
  • Norisoprenoids / analysis
  • Odorants / analysis
  • Pigmentation*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / chemistry*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics
  • Volatilization


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Norisoprenoids
  • Carotenoids
  • citral