Fingerprinting Chemical Markers in the Mediterranean Orange Blossom Honey: UHPLC-HRMS Metabolomics Study Integrating Melissopalynological Analysis, GC-MS and HPLC-PDA-ESI/MS

Molecules. 2023 May 8;28(9):3967. doi: 10.3390/molecules28093967.


(1) Background: Citrus honey constitutes a unique monofloral honey characterized by a distinctive aroma and unique taste. The non-targeted chemical analysis can provide pivotal information on chemical markers that differentiate honey based on its geographical and botanical origin. (2) Methods: Within the PRIMA project "PLANT-B", a metabolomics workflow was established to unveil potential chemical markers of orange blossom honey produced in case study areas of Egypt, Italy, and Greece. In some of these areas, aromatic medicinal plants were cultivated to enhance biodiversity and attract pollinators. The non-targeted chemical analysis and metabolomics were conducted using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry (UHPLC-HRMS). (3) Results: Forty compounds were disclosed as potential chemical markers, enabling the differentiation of the three orange blossom honeys according to geographical origin. Italian honey showed a preponderance of flavonoids, while in Greek honey, terpenoids and iridoids were more abundant than flavonoids, except for hesperidin. In Egyptian honey, suberic acid and a fatty acid ester derivative emerged as chemical markers. New, for honey, furan derivatives were identified using GC-MS in Greek samples. (4) Conclusions: The application of UHPLC-HRMS metabolomics combined with an elaborate melissopalynological analysis managed to unveil several potential markers of Mediterranean citrus honey potentially associated with citrus crop varieties and the local indigenous flora.

Keywords: HRMS; aromatic medicinal plants; citrus; honey; mass spectrometry; melissopalynology; metabolomics; pollen.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Citrus sinensis* / chemistry
  • Citrus*
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Honey* / analysis
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics


  • Flavonoids
  • Biomarkers

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