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Title: Genetic and environmental drivers of fruit composition in relation to sensory quality in blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Author: Messner, Christine
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2013
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The consumption of blueberries in the UK is increasing, but currently most of the available blueberries are imported. There is therefore great potential for UK growers to supply high quality blueberries to meet the consumer preferences. At present little is known regarding specific UK consumer sensory preferences, the relationship between fruit metabolite and sensory profiles or the impact of UK climatic conditions on fruit metabolite profile in relation to sensory and health beneficial characteristics. The aim of this study was to understand the sensory expectations of UK consumers and the relationship between fruit phytochemistry and sensory profiles in order to provide underlying tools to assist in breeding of an elite UK adapted germplasm. Sensory tests were conducted on a range of currently grown cultivars. Free-choice profiling identified the range of descriptors used by consumers and subsequent descriptive profiling using the consensus vocabulary resulted in the generation of a multivariate product space describing relationships between the cultivars. The most important attributes were size, sourness and sweetness. The assessors had difficulties in differentiating between aroma, because of the limited flavour volatiles profile. Sugars, organic acids, polyphenols, anthocyanins, flavour volatiles, lipids and brix were quantified to establish links between phytochemicals and sensory character. Sugar and organic acids were the major determinants of sensory scoring for flavour characters. Limited genetic influences were observed in phytochemical content of individual cultivars grown in the same location, based on the similar pedigrees of the cultivars. Environmental influences were manifested as differences in the same cultivar across seasons or growing locations. This study highlights the need for the development of a more diverse product offering. In the short term, further research on the environmental impact on blueberry chemistry should be conducted leading to the development of growing practices that enhance metabolites associate with favourable sensory properties. In the longer term breeding of flavour intensive cultivars is required and the work presented here linking fruit chemistry to sensory properties provides a valuable resource for the indirect breeding of varieties with an appropriate sensory profile.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available