Metabolite profiling of leek (Allium porrum L) cultivars by (1) H NMR and HPLC-MS

Phytochem Anal. May-Jun 2014;25(3):220-8. doi: 10.1002/pca.2495. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Introduction: Leek (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) is consumed as a vegetable throughout the world. However, little is known about the metabolites of leek cultivars, especially those with potentially important beneficial properties for human health.

Objective: We provide new information for the overall metabolite composition of several leek cultivars grown in Europe by using HPLC-MS and (1) H NMR.

Methods: The use of a novel CTLS/NMR (constrained total-line-shape nuclear magnetic resonance) approach was found to be capable of reliable quantification, even with overlapping metabolite signals in the (1) H NMR of plant metabolites. Additionally, a new application for leek flavonoids was optimised for HPLC-MS.

Results: The total concentration of carbohydrates (glucose, fructose, kestose/nystose and sucrose) and nine amino acids varied by fourfold in leek juice from different cultivars, while the total concentrations of four organic acids were similar in all cultivars. All the quantified flavonols were kaempferol derivatives or quercetin derivatives and threefold differences in flavonol concentrations were detected between cultivars.

Conclusion: In this study, various phytochemical profiles were determined for several leek cultivars by (1) H NMR spectroscopy with CTLS combined with HPLC-MS. The wide variation in bioactive compounds among commercial leek cultivars offers promising opportunities for breeders to raise the levels of important biochemical compounds in leek breeding lines, and also provides some objective measure for quality assurance for the leek industry.

Keywords: 1H NMR; Allium porrum; HPLC-MS; amino acids; carbohydrates; flavonols; food components; leek.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Carboxylic Acids / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Deuterium / analysis
  • Europe
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Onions / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Deuterium