Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) is ranked among the top ten vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity due to its fruit's phenolic constituents. Several potential health promoting effects have been ascribed to plant phenolic phytochemicals. We report here a first evaluation of phenolic acid constituents in eggplant fruit from accessions in the USDA eggplant core subset. The core subset includes 101 accessions of the cultivated eggplant, S. melongena, and 14 accessions representing four related eggplant species, S. aethiopicum L., S. anguivi Lam., S. incanum L., and S. macrocarpon L. Significant differences in phenolic acid content and composition were evident among the five eggplant species and among genotypes within species. Fourteen compounds separated by HPLC, that were present in many but not all accessions, were identified or tentatively identified as hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) derivatives based on HPLC elution times, UV absorbance spectra, ES-—MS mass spectra, and in some cases proton NMR data. These phenolics were grouped into five classes: chlorogenic acid isomers, isochlorogenic acid isomers, hydroxycinnamic acid amide conjugates, unidentified caffeic acid conjugates, and acetylated chlorogenic acid isomers. Among S. melongena accessions, there was a nearly 20-fold range in total HCA content. Total HCA content in S. aethiopicum and S. macrocarpon was low relative to S. melongena. A S. anguivi accession had the highest HCA content among core subset accessions. Chlorogenic acid isomers ranged from 63.4% to 96% of total HCAs in most core accessions. Two atypical accessions, S. anguivi PI 319855 and S. incanum PI500922, exhibited strikingly different HCA conjugate profiles, which differed from those of all other core subset accessions by the presence of several unique phenolic compounds. Our findings on eggplant fruit phenolic content provide opportunities to improve eggplant fruit quality and nutritive value.
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