Combined untargeted and targeted fingerprinting with comprehensive two-dimensional chromatography for volatiles and ripening indicators in olive oil
Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC × GC) is the most effective multidimensional separation technique for in-depth investigations of complex samples of volatiles (VOC) in food. However, each analytical run produces dense, multi-dimensional data, so elaboration and interpretation of chemical information is challenging.
This study exploits recent advances of GC × GC-MS chromatographic fingerprinting to study VOCs distributions from Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) samples of a single botanical origin (Picual), cultivated in well-defined plots in Granada (Spain), and harvested at different maturation stages. A new integrated work-flow, fully supported by dedicated and automated software tools, combines untargeted and targeted (UT) approaches based on peak-region features to achieve the most inclusive fingerprinting.
Combined results from untargeted and targeted methods are consistent, reliable, and informative on discriminant features (analytes) correlated with optimal ripening of olive fruits and sensory quality of EVOOs. The great flexibility of the UT fingerprinting here adopted enables retrospective analysis with great confidence and provides data to validate the transferability of ripening indicators ((Z)-3-hexenal, (Z)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-pentenal, nonanal, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, octane) to external samples sets. Direct image comparison, based on visual features, also is investigated for quick and effective pair-wise investigations. Its implementation with reliable metadata generated by UT fingerprinting confirms the maturity of 2D data elaboration tools and makes advanced image processing a real perspective.