UPLC-MS based metabolomics analysis reveals metabolite compositional differences between Kenyan Commercial and NonCommercial black tea (Camellia sinensis L.) cultivars.
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Biochemistry, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation, Tea Research Institute
James Finlay (Kenya) Limited
Christopher Nyarukowa   

Department of Biochemistry, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Submission date: 2021-07-19
Final revision date: 2021-08-03
Acceptance date: 2021-08-05
Online publication date: 2021-08-05
Publication date: 2021-08-19
NRFHH 2021;1(1):19–29
Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze (tea) is one of the most widely consumed beverages across the world, serving as an essential commodity crop for several developing countries. A bulk of tea’s health-promoting properties are attributed to the antioxidant properties of EGCg, its predominant polyphenol. As a result of these health benefits, tea production and consumption has expanded and promoted the development of tea industries globally. Tea cultivation is dependent on a good distribution of rainfall, and the current changes in climate pose a significant threat to its global supply chains. Through the efforts of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), predictions of future climate changes in the tea growing regions of Kenya between now and 2050 have been generated. A study was conducted to develop models to identify key tea growing regions that will remain ideal for tea farming and also investigate the metabolomic differences between 243 drought susceptible NonCommercial (NComm) and 60 Commercial (Comm) cultivars. Non-targeted, high-resolution UPLC-MS was used to attain a new profound understanding of the metabolomic multiplicity between the Comm and NComm groups and to elucidate their association with tea liquor quality and drought tolerance. Several metabolites, namely argininosuccinate, caffeic acid, caffeine, catechin, citric acid, epicatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, gallic acid, gluconic acid, glucose, maltose, quercetin and theanine were found to clearly differentiate between the Comm and NComm cultivars. These detected metabolites were linked to improved tea quality and drought tolerance in the Comm cultivars.
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