Peaches have a short shelf life and require chilling during storage and transport. Peach aroma is important for consumer preference and determined by underlying metabolic pathways and gene expression. Differences in aroma (profiles of volatile organic compounds, VOCs) have been widely reported across cultivars and in response to cold storage. However, few studies used intact peaches, or used equilibrium sampling methods subject to saturation. We analysed VOC profiles using TD-GC × GC-ToF-MS and expression of 12 key VOC pathway genes of intact fruit from six cultivars (three peaches, three nectarines) before and after storage at 1 °C for 7 days including 36 h shelf life storage at 20 °C. Two dimensional GC (GC × GC) significantly enhances discrimination of thermal desorption gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TD-GC-ToF-MS) and detected a total of 115 VOCs. A subset of 15 VOCs from analysis with Random Forest discriminated between cultivars. Another 16 VOCs correlated strongly with expression profiles of eleven key genes in the lipoxygenase pathway, and both expression profiles and VOCs discriminated amongst cultivars, peach versus nectarines and between treatments. The cultivar-specific response to cold storage underlines the need to understand more fully the genetic basis for VOC changes across cultivars.
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