Objectionable off-odors are produced by broccoli (Brassica oleracea, L.) when it is held under anaerobic conditions. These off-odors were attributed to sulfur volatile compounds mainly methanethiol (MT) and hydrogen sulfide. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effects of anaerobic conditions on the metabolism and emission of sulfur volatiles by broccoli. Inhibition assays using aminooxyacetic acid (AOA)—a potential inhibitor of pyridoxal-phosphate-dependent enzymes-confirmed the enzymatic origin of these volatiles. However, anaerobic atmosphere had no inducible effect on the enzymes cystine lyase, cysteine desulfhydrases and S-alkylcysteine lyase. These pyridoxal-phosphate-dependent enzymes thought to catalyze the respective degradation of cystine, cysteine and S-methyl-L-cysteine to sulfur volatiles showed no significant activity increase. Storage of sterile broccoli seedlings under anaerobic atmosphere resulted in an important increase of the content of sulfur amino acids that corresponded to an increased emission of sulfur volatiles. Cysteine and methionine content increased particularly at 24 hours and decreased later. Whereas, S-methyl-L-cysteine content increase was more obvious after 48 hours. The results suggest a possible involvement of the pathways for synthesis and breakdown of sulfur amino acids via methionine.
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