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Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
xx, No. xx, 2014; Pages: xx–xx

Metabolite profiling on wheat grain to enable a distinction of samples from organic and conventional farming systems†

Anja Bonte1,2, Heiko Neuweger2,‡, Alexander Goesmann2, Cécile Thonar3, Paul Mäder3, Georg Langenkämper1,*, Karsten Niehaus2

Max Rubner-Institut, Schützenberg 12, 32756, Detmold, Germany; Faculty of Biology and Centre for Biotechnology, Bielefeld University, 33615, Bielefeld, Germany.



Identification of biomarkers capable of distinguishing organic and conventional products would be highly welcome to improve the strength of food quality assurance. Metabolite profiling was used for biomarker search in organic and conventional wheat grain (Triticum aestivum L.) of 11 different old and new bread wheat cultivars grown in the DOK system comparison trial. Metabolites were extracted using methanol and analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.


Altogether 48 metabolites and 245 non-identified metabolites (TAGs) were detected in the cultivar Runal. Principal component analysis showed a sample clustering according to farming systems and significant differences in peak areas between the farming systems for 10 Runal metabolites. Results obtained from all 11 cultivars indicated a greater influence of the cultivar than the farming system on metabolite concentrations. Nevertheless, a t-test on data of all cultivars still detected 5 metabolites and 11 TAGs with significant differences between the farming systems.


Based on individual cultivars, metabolite profiling showed promising results for the categorization of organic and conventional wheat. Further investigations are necessary with wheat from more growing seasons and locations before definite conclusions can be drawn concerning the feasibility to evolve a combined set of biomarkers for organically grown wheat using metabolite profiles. © 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords:Metabolite profiling; biomarker; winter wheat; GC-MS; organic farming.



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