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Handy SM, Parks MB, Deeds JR, Liston A, de Jager LS, Luccioli S, Kwegyir-Afful E, Fardin-Kia AR, Begley TH, Rader JI, Diachenko GW. Use of the chloroplast gene ycf1 for the genetic differentiation of pine nuts obtained from consumers experiencing dysgeusia. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Oct 26;59(20):10995-1002.
Pine nuts are a part of traditional cooking in many parts of the world and have seen a significant increase in availability/use in the United States over the past 10 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) field offices received 411 complaints from U.S. consumers over the past three years regarding taste disturbances following the consumption of pine nuts. Using analysis of fatty acids by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection, previous reports have implicated nuts from Pinus armandii (Armand Pine) as the causative species for similar taste disturbances. This method was found to provide insufficient species resolution to link FDA consumer complaint samples to a single species of pine, particularly when samples contained species mixtures of pine nuts. Here we describe a DNA based method for differentiating pine nut samples using the ycf1 chloroplast gene. Although the exact cause of pine nut associated dysgeusia is still not known, we found that 15 of 15 samples from consumer complaints contained at least some Pinus armandii, confirming the apparent association of this species with taste disturbances.