A global approach has been developed to study the influence of ripening of olive fruits on the phenolic fraction present in virgin olive oil from different genotypes of olives. For this purpose, a non-targeted method based on the analysis of phenolic extracts by MS in high resolution mode was applied. The phenolic profiles obtained by liquid chromatography - quadrupole-quadrupole-time-of-flight (LC-QqTOF) were compared by statistical multivariate analysis tools such as principal component analysis and heat correlation maps. In overall terms, discrimination was only observed for specific crop dates and ripening index values, which should be ascribed to a strong influence of the genotype. The ripening process of each genotype was also studied to demonstrate the variation of phenolic profile in relation to the ripening index. This study was also extended to a panel of representative phenols appreciated by their health and nutritional properties. The application of omics technologies to plant breeding programs could be considered as one of the main pillars on which improvement of products quality can be supported.
Practical applications: Olive oil phenols are of a great interest since they contribute to autoxidation stability, health properties, and organoleptic characteristics of virgin olive oil. These phenols are considered a key to assess virgin olive oil quality. This study is focused on the effect of the ripening process on the phenolic fraction from a metabolomics point of view. This advanced omics technology (foodomics) applied to plant breeding programs can be one of the pillars to improve products quality.