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Ex situ volatile survey of ground almond and pistachio hulls for emission of spiroketals: Analysis of hull fatty acid composition, water content, and water activity

Noreen E. Mahoney, Wai S. Gee, Bradley S. Higbee, John J. Beck
Phytochemistry letters 2014 v.7 pp. 225-230
Amyelois transitella, almonds, developmental stages, emissions, fatty acid composition, fungal spores, growing season, hulls, insect pests, linoleic acid, pistachios, surveys, volatile compounds, water activity, water content
The spiroketal conophthorin has recently been implicated as an important semiochemical of the navel orangeworm moth (Amyelois transitella), a major insect pest to California tree nuts. Additionally, new evidence demonstrates that fungal spores in the presence of linoleic acid produce conophthorin. Numerous investigations have analyzed the volatile emissions of almonds and pistachios under varying conditions, yet there are few reports of conophthorin as a volatile component. Previous studies by our laboratories have suggested almond hulls may be a source of conophthorin production. Accordingly, the volatile emissions of ex situ almond and pistachio ground hulls were surveyed at several developmental stages. Each ground sample was analyzed at various intervals to determine if conophthorin was produced. The almond and pistachio samples were presumed to have a natural fungal bouquet present. Additionally, the fatty acid composition, water content, and water activity of the hulls were analyzed for each sample. Conophthorin and the structurally similar compound chalcogran were detected from almond hulls and shells, but not from the pistachio samples. The almond and pistachio hulls were investigated for four fatty acid components – palmitic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic. The fatty acid composition of almond hulls varied greatly throughout the growing season, whereas the composition of pistachio hulls remained relatively constant. Both water content and activity were constant in early stages of almond growth then dropped in the later stages of hull split. Spiroketal emission along with other associated volatiles is discussed. This is the first report of the fatty acid composition, water content, and water activity of developing almond and pistachio hulls.