Main content area

Differences in Chemical Composition among Commercially Important Cultivars of Genus Camellia

Wang, Yijun, Kan, Zhipeng, Wang, Dongxu, Zhang, Liang, Wan, Xiaochun, McGinley, John N., Thompson, Henry J.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2018 v.67 no.19 pp. 5457-5464
Camellia, alkaloids, amino acids, beverages, biochemical pathways, biomarkers, chemical composition, cultivars, flavanols, flavones, functional foods, glycosides, leaves, phenolic acids, plasticity, prebiotics, processing technology, tandem mass spectrometry, tea, ultra-performance liquid chromatography
Leaves from plants of the genus Camellia are used to make beverages and food products; however, there is limited data that compares the chemical composition of the unprocessed leaves of cultivars traditionally used to make these products. Plucked, fresh leaves from 14 commercially important cultivars were analyzed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography–quadrupole time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry. On the basis of assessment of 61 compounds that are known to be affected by postharvest tea processing methods, significant variation among unprocessed cultivar leaves was observed for compounds in five chemical classes: amino acids, catechins, flavonoids and flavone glycosides, phenolic acids, and alkaloids. These chemical differences were of sufficient magnitude to render two distinct chemically defined clusters of Camellia cultivars that did not reflect the traditional grouping of these cultivars based by species variant, tea type, or production region. Advanced statistical techniques identified candidate biomarkers for each chemical class to guide the development of comprehensive targeted analyses for constituents of biosynthetic pathways in which marked expression plasticity was observed. Targeted analyses of this type have the potential to identify Camellia species/cultivars that will facilitate the formulation of new beverages and designer foods with improved organoleptic characteristic and enhanced prebiotic or nutraceutical activity.