Surface wax composition of wild and cultivated Northern berries
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Surface wax of plants is the outer layer, which protects the plant from dehydration, extreme temperatures, UV radiation and changes in the environment, as well as attacks from moulds and bacteria. Studies of berry surface wax are of importance to understand metabolism character (factors affecting wax layer composition in different berry species) as well as to increase the shelf life of berries and increase the microbial resistance. The aim of this study was analysis of surface wax composition of commercially grown 8 blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) varieties, wild bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum L.). More than 80 different compounds were identified and quantified belonging to 9 groups of compounds, namely, alkanes, phytosterols, alcohols, fatty acids, phenolic acids, ketones, aldehydes, esters and tocopherols. Significant differences were found between blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum L.) surface wax composition. Amongst studied berries differences were found in concentrations of triterpenes (up to 62% in blueberries), and fatty acids (up to 26% in bilberries) identifying species related differences influencing associated functional properties of berry wax (antimicrobial activity, stress caused by environmental changes). Blueberry variety ‘Polaris’ had the highest amount of ursolic acid (9.30 g 100 g -1 ), alpha-amyrin (11.07 g 100 g -1 ) and lupeol (10.2 g 100 g -1 ). Research on berry surface wax composition could help reduce loss of commercially produced berries due to environmental impacts or microbial attacks, prolonging shelf life and overall quality of fruits and vegetables post-harvest.