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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Feb 12;51(4):1026-9.

Biosynthetic origin of geosmin in red beets (Beta vulgaris L.).

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6376, USA.


Geosmin provides the characteristic but sometimes undesirable "earthy" flavor to red table beets. To date, it is not known whether geosmin is a byproduct of beet metabolism or synthesized by soil-borne microorganisms and taken up by the beets during maturation. Analysis of mature beet roots revealed that peels contained 6 times the amount of geosmin compared to the bodies and cores. Sterilized beet seeds were aseptically grown in a basal medium prior to analysis for the presence of geosmin. Using a headspace solid-phase microextraction (HSPME) method, the relative recovery of geosmin from beet seedling extracts was 72.0 +/- 4.2% with (-)-menthone as the internal standard. The presence of geosmin in aseptically grown beet seedlings was confirmed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry using authentic geosmin as the standard. During aseptic growth, the concentration of geosmin in seedlings remained constant for up to 5 months but increased at 6 months. Geosmin added to the growth medium was not absorbed by the seedlings. These studies support the conclusion that red beets are capable of endogenous synthesis of geosmin.

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