There are not many exhaustive works emphasizing the amount of genetic diversity among the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L) genotypes in Morocco. This work aims to assess the biochemical composition of strawberry tree fruits, as well as to establish the variation of this composition among them. In this study, total phenols (TP), total flavonoids (TF), condensed tannins (CT) and hydrolyzable tannins (HT), total anthocyanins (TA), and free radical scavenging activity through ABTS were investigated in strawberry tree fruits. Furthermore, qualitative and quantitative analyses of individual phenolic compounds by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were carried out. Color parameters such as lightness (L *), Chroma (c *), and hue angle (h°) were also investigated. All studied variables showed highly significant differences among all samples with the exception of hydrolyzable tannins and chromatic coordinates. TP varied from 22.63 ± 1.74 to 39.06 ± 2.44 mg GAE/g DW, TF varied from 3.30 ± 0.60 to 8.62 ± 1.10 mg RE/g DW, and TA ranged between 0.12 ± 0.06 and 0.66 ± 0.15 mg cya-3-glu/100 g DW. In addition, CT and HT amounts were in the range of 10.41 ± 1.07-16.08 ± 1.50 mg TAE/g DW and 4.08 ± 2.43-6.34 ± 3.47 TAE/g DW, respectively. Moreover, the IC50 value (ABTS) ranged between 1.75 and 19.58 mg AAE/g DW. 17 phenolic compounds were detected in strawberry tree fruits. Gallocatechol and catechin were the most abundant phenolic compounds. Matrix of correlations revealed significant positive and negative correlations among variables particularly c *, a *, and b *. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that the first three components formed than 68% of the total inertia. The following variables gallic acid, protocatechuic, gallocatechin, gallic acid derivative, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, ellagic acid derivative II, L *, and h * were the most involved in the total variance explained. Hierarchical clustering classified samples into one main cluster, with a single branch. The results highlight a high biochemical diversity within studied strawberry genotypes, which is probably more genetically related.
Keywords: Arbutus unedo L.; Morocco; antioxidant capacity; chemometrics; lolyphenolic compounds.