Developments in analytical technology, most notably high resolution fused silica open tubular (FSOT) gas chromatography-mass spectromety (GC-MS), make it possible to investigate physiological roles of volatile molecules occurring at low (ppb-ppm) concentrations. Use of headspace and purge-and-trap sampling coupled with cryofocusing injection techniques minimizes artifacts often created when more traditional methods of volatile molecule extraction are used. A challenging aspect of the work is development of appropriate delivery methods for internal standard quantitation of the molecules of interest. Apparently, biosynthesis of certain volatile substances is O2 dependent and others are manufactured in response to a changing environment. FSOT GC-MS investigation revealed dramatic changes in content and quantity of `Bisbee' apple headspace and purgable flesh volatiles during a 5-week harvest maturity period and 4 months of subsequent refrigerated storage. Other studies with apple mesocarp cultures and other fruits show interesting volatile molecule profiles in response to different treatments.
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