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Seasonal Variation in Flower Volatiles

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Santford V. Overton & John J. Manura. Scientific Instrument Services, Inc., 1027 Old York Road, Ringoes, NJ 08551

The identification and quantification of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) which are responsible for the flavor and fragrance qualities in many commercial products are of significant importance to the food/fragrance industry. The most important factors for the production of characteristic flavors and aromas are the plants. Floral fragrances are the primary means by which plants attract potential pollinators. In determining a plant's floral origin and assessing its overall flavor/aroma quality, it would be extremely advantageous to have a reliable range of marker compounds characteristic of the various flowers and plants. These organic compounds can be identified and used as marker compounds in commercial products. Previous methods for the extraction and analysis of these compounds used techniques such as solvent extraction, headspace analysis and microdistillation followed by capillary chromatography. These methods either require large sample sizes, require the use of solvents or require considerable time and effort to acheive the analysis. In addition, static headspace techniques are limited to their detection and identification of many organic volatiles and especially the semi-volatile organics. Other analytical techniques are needed to profile a wider range of volatile and semi-volatile organics and to identify the flavors, fragrances, off-flavors, off-odors, and potential contaminants that may be present as flavor and fragrance additives. For this study, volatile organic compounds were purged from several species of flowers during their life cycle followed by trapping on an adsorbent resin using a purge and trap technique. The adsorbent traps were subsequently analyzed by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS).