To better understand and predict the complex multifactorial trait flavor, volatile and non-volatile components were measured in fresh sweet pepper (Capsicum
annuum) fruits throughout the growing season in a diverse panel of 24 breeding lines, hybrids, several cultivated genotypes and one gene bank accession. Biochemical
profiles were linked to individual flavor attributes, that were objectively quantified by a trained descriptive expert panel. We used a Random Forest regression approach for
prediction of the flavor attributes within and between harvests. Predictions of texture related attributes (juiciness, toughness, crunchiness and stickiness of the skin)
and sweetness were good (around 60–65 %in the analyses with the three harvests combined). The predictions of the attributes aroma intensity, sourness and fruity/apple were somewhat lower and more variable between harvests.
(E)-2-hexen-1-ol, neopentane, p-menth-1-en-9-al, 3-hepten-2-one, (Z)-b-ocimene, (Z)-2-penten-1-ol, 1-methyl-1,4-cyclohexadiene, glucose, fructose and three unknown
volatile compounds were identified as key-metabolites involved in the flavor differences between both genotypes and harvests. The complex nature of flavor is exemplified by the observed masking effect of fructose and other
sugars on sourness and sourness related metabolites, like citrate. The knowledge obtained from the overall biochemical, sensory and prediction analyses forms a basis
for targeted flavor improvement by breeding.
- volatile compounds