Characterization of volatile substances in apples from Rosaceae family by headspace solid-phase microextraction followed by GC-qMS

J Sep Sci. 2009 Jun;32(11):1875-88. doi: 10.1002/jssc.200900024.


The volatile composition of different apple varieties of Malus domestica Borkh. species from different geographic regions at Madeira Islands, namely Ponta do Pargo (PP), Porto Santo (PS), and Santo da Serra (SS) was established by headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) procedure followed by GC-MS (GC-qMS) analysis. Significant parameters affecting sorption process such as fiber coating, extraction temperature, extraction time, sample amount, dilution factor, ionic strength, and desorption time, were optimized and discussed. The SPME fiber coated with 50/30 microm divinylbenzene/carboxen/PDMS (DVB/CAR/PDMS) afforded highest extraction efficiency of volatile compounds, providing the best sensitivity for the target volatiles, particularly when the samples were extracted at 50 degrees C for 30 min with constant magnetic stirring. A qualitative and semi-quantitative analysis between the investigated apple species has been established. It was possible to identify about 100 of volatile compounds among pulp (46, 45, and 39), peel (64, 60, and 64), and entire fruit (65, 43, and 50) in PP, PS, and SS apples, respectively. Ethyl esters, terpenes, and higher alcohols were found to be the most representative volatiles. Alpha-farnesene, hexan-1-ol and hexyl 2-methylbutyrate were the compounds found in the volatile profile of studied apples with the largest GC area, representing, on average, 24.71, 14.06, and 10.80% of the total volatile fraction from PP, PS, and SS apples. In PP entire apple, the most abundant compounds identified were alpha-farnesene (30.49%), the unknown compound m/z (69, 101, 157) (21.82%) and hexyl acetate (6.57%). Regarding PS entire apple the major compounds were alpha-farnesene (16.87%), estragole (15.43%), hexan-1-ol (10.94), and E-2-hexenal (10.67). Alpha-farnesene (30.3%), hexan-1-ol (18.90%), 2-methylbutanoic acid (4.7%), and pentan-1-ol (4.6%) were also found as SS entire apple volatiles present in a higher relative content. Principal component analysis (PCA) of the results clustered the apples into three groups according to geographic origin. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was performed in order to detect the volatile compounds able to differentiate the three kinds of apples investigated. The most important contributions to the differentiation of the PP, PS, and SS apples were ethyl hexanoate, hexyl 2-methylbutyrate, E,E-2,4-heptadienal, p-ethyl styrene, and E-2-hexenal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Malus / chemistry*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / methods*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Volatile Organic Compounds