BACKGROUND: Volatile compounds, together with sugars and acids, are the main chemical species determining the characteristic aroma and flavor of food. In peach, more than 100 volatiles have been identified.
RESULTS: The essential oil of six peach and three nectarine accessions used in Italian breeding programs was obtained by steam distillation, and the volatiles were investigated. A total of 47 known volatiles, two unidentified compounds and nine hydrocarbons were identified, including 12 aldehydes, six alcohols, three acids, three esters, six terpenes, two phenylalanine derivates, two C13 norisoprenoids, one ketone (C9) and 10 lactones. A wide variation in the number of volatiles and in their concentration was observed among the nine accessions. Twenty-one compounds presented odor activity values (OAVs) higher than 1 in at least one of the accessions and were therefore putatively considered as key odorants in the peach volatile composition.
CONCLUSION: This study reports the identification, quantification and potency, based on the OAVs, of the most important volatile compounds, along with fruit quality characteristics, of nine different peach/nectarine accessions and will help future peach volatile breeding programs for the selection of odor-rich accessions to be used in the development of new improved cultivars. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry