Analysis of onion and garlic flavour compounds








We have been studying the flavour precursors of onion, garlic and related plants for many years. One essential tool is an analytical system to extract and separate the compounds. We use high performance liquid chromatography, shown above (with a Biochemistry student who carried out her final year project in our laboratory).

The flavour precursors are comparatively stable and odourless, prior to their enzymic cleavage into volatile and unstable compounds that give the onion family its characteristic flavour. We have developed methods to extract and analyse the flavour precursors prior to this conversion. We used these methods in our work with onion breeders and growers to develop a milder, sweet onion that can be grown in the UK.

In addition, to investigate biosynthesis, we have been studying the biochemical transformations of chemicals that may lie earlier in the biosynthetic pathway by onion and garlic tissue cultures which normally do not synthesise flavour precursors.