Identification of the major glucosinolate (4-mercaptobutyl glucosinolate) in leaves of Eruca sativa L. (salad rocket)

Richard N. Bennett, Fred A. Mellon, Nigel P. Botting, John Eagles, Eduardo A.S. Rosa, Gary Williamson

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The major and structurally unique glucosinolate (GLS) in leaves of Eruca sativa L. (salad rocket) was identified as 4-mercaptobutyl GLS. Both 4-methylthiobutyl GLS and 4-methylsulfinylbutyl GLS were also present, but at lower concentrations. The 4-mercaptobutyl GLS was observed to oxidise under common GLS extraction conditions, generating a disulfide GLS that may be reduced efficiently by tris(2-carboxyethyl) phosphine hydrochloride (TCEP) to reform the parent molecule. The identities of 4-mercaptobutyl GLS and of the corresponding dimeric GLS were confirmed by LC/MS, MS/MS and NMR. Myrosinase treatment of an enriched GLS fraction or of the purified dimer GLS generated a mixture of unique bi-functional disulfides, including bis-(4-isothiocyanatobutyl) disulfide (previously identified elsewhere). TCEP reduction of the purified dimer, followed by myrosinase treatment, yielded only 4-mercaptobutyl ITC. GLS-derived volatiles generated by autolysis of fresh seedlings and true leaves were 4-mercaptobutyl ITC (from the newly identified GLS), 4-methylthiobutyl ITC (from 4-methylthiobutyl GLS) and 4-methylsulfinylbutyl ITC (from 4-methylsulfinyl-butyl GLS); no unusual bi-functional disulfides were found in fresh leaf autolysate. These results led to the conclusion that, in planta, the new GLS must be present as 4-mercaptobutyl GLS and not as the disulfide found after extraction and sample concentration. This new GLS and its isothiocyanate are likely to contribute to the unique odour and flavour of E. sativa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • 4-Mercaptobutyl glucosinolate
  • 4-Mercaptobutyl isothiocyanate
  • Bis-(4-Isothiocyanotobutyl) disulfide
  • Eruca sativa
  • GC/MS
  • LC/MS
  • MS/MS
  • NMR

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