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J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Mar 15;95(4):776-85. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6897. Epub 2014 Oct 15.

A comparison of fruit quality parameters of wild bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) growing at different locations.

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University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Agronomy Department, Chair for Fruit, Wine and Vegetable Growing, Jamnikarjeva 101, SI-1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia.



As a part of the ongoing interest in nutritional and nutraceutical properties of locally produced fruits, the aim of the article was to determine sugars, organic acids, polyphenols and antioxidant capacity of wild bilberries grown in Slovenia. Primary and secondary metabolite composition of bilberry fruit was compared among six phyto-climatic conditions, differing in photosynthetic active radiation and light intensity.


Three sugars were quantified in bilberry fruit, the predominant being fructose and glucose, along with five organic acids. Bilberry fruit contained high levels of anthocyanins (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, petunidin and peonidin glycosides), hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and low levels of flavonol glycosides (mainly quercetin and myricetin glycosides), flavan-3-ols, proanthocyanidins and iridoids. The results of the study indicate that bilberries growing in sites with high photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) contained higher levels of total sugars, anthocyanins, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids and lower levels of organic acids compared with bilberry fruit from low-light locations. Consequently, total phenolic content and antioxidative capacity of the fruit from high-PAR locations were significantly increased.


Bilberries from different natural habitats differ significantly in the quantity of sugars, organic acids and phenolic compounds. Our results contribute to a fuller understanding of the relationships between environmental factors and accumulation of primary and secondary metabolites in bilberry fruits.


antioxidant capacity; growing conditions; light; organic acids; phenolic compounds; sugars; wild bilberry

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