Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2013, 4, 758-762 Published Online July 2013 (
Lycopene Concentration and Physico-Chemical Properties
of Tropical Fruits*
Luis Eduardo Ordoñez-Santos#, Diana Patricia Ledezma-Realpe
Faculty of Engineering and Management, Department of Engineering, Research Group in Agroindustrial Processes (GIPA), National
University of Colombia, Palmira, Colombia.
Received October 4th, 2012, revised January 4th, 2013; accepted January 11th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Luis Eduardo Ordoñez-Santos, Diana Patricia Ledezma-Realpe. This is an open access article distributed under the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
In this study, the lycopene concentration and physico-chemical properties of tropical fruits in ripe for immediate con-
sumption was evaluated. Chonto tomatoes had greater lycopene contents than Milano or Long Life Milano tomatoes,
107 as against 89 and 58 μg/(g fresh weight), respectively (p < 0.001). Jenny watermelon had a higher lycopene con-
centration than guava or Maradol papaya, 110 as against 36 and 6 μg/(g fresh weight), respectively (p < 0.001). Milano
tomato and Maradol papaya presented the best physicochemical properties than other fruits. The major concentration of
lycopene in Chonto tomatoes and Jenny watermelon offers an important alternative to reduce the risk of cancer in the
Colombian population.
Keywords: Tomato; Guava; Watermelon; Papaya; Solid Soluble; Titratable Acidity
1. Introduction
New life styles have driven consumers away from healthy
dietary habits. As a matter of fact, their increasing con-
cern about their health has prompted the need for food
products which contribute to the prevention of illness.
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of natural anti-
oxidants, containing many different antioxidant compo-
nents which provide protection against harmful-free
radicals and have associated with lower incidence and
mortality rates of cancer and heart diseases in addition to
a number of other health benefits [1]. Among these
compounds, the carotenoids constitute an important group
in human diets and display, in addition to their vitamin
activity, several other biological activities including an-
tioxidant capacity, blue light filtering, modulation of
immune function, and regulation of cell differentiation
and proliferation [2]. Some 70% - 90% of the carotenoid
content of the human diet is supplied by fruit and vegeta-
bles [3]. The most efficient carotenoid antioxidant is ly-
copene which was first isolated in 1910 [4,5]. It is mainly
produced by higher plants, in which it protects cells
against photo-oxidation [6]. Lycopene is an important
intermediate in biosynthesis of vitamin A precursor ca-
rotenoids like β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin. As de-
scribed in detail by Fraser and Bramley (2004) [7], pro-
lycopene (7Z, 9Z, 7’Z, 9’Z-lycopene) is formed by suc-
cessive dehydrogenations of phytoene and ζ-carotene
catalyzed by phytoene desaturase (PDS) and ζ-carotene
desaturase (ZDS), respectively. Subsequently, prolyco-
pene is transformed to all-E-lycopene by a carotene cis-
transisomerase [7,8]. The chief source of lycopene in the
human diet is the tomato, which contains 29.37 - 150
μg/g fresh weight (fw) [9,10]. Along with the carotenoids,
sugars and organic acids determine the quality of the fruits
and vegetables, these parameters may supply important
information to the consumer in terms of recognizing a
more nutritional product. Several works have established
the role of soluble solid content, acids and sugars in the
taste and flavor intensity of fruits and vegetables [11].
However, Colombia is limited to information that con-
sumers have about the quality of different fruits and vege-
tables grown in this tropical country. Since this is one of
the main reasons for low fruit and vegetable consump-
tion reaching only 190 grams per person per day, which
values lower than that established by the World Health
Organization (WHO) who recommends a minimum con-
*This work was financially supported by the Research Directorate of the
ational University of Colombia at Palmira (DIPAL).
#Corresponding author.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. FNS
Lycopene Concentration and Physico-Chemical Properties of Tropical Fruits 759
sumption of 400 grams per person per day of fruits and
vegetables. The present study was conducted to deter-
mine the concentration of lycopene and physic-chemical
properties tropical fruits.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Plant Material
We studied three cultivars of tomato (Solanum lycoper-
sicum L.) Milano, Long Life Milano (LL-Milano), and
Chonto and one cultivar of each of three different fruits:
watermelon (Citrullus lanatus L. “Jenny”), guava (Psidium
guajaba L. “Pera”) and papaya (Carica papaya L. “Ma-
radol”) were purchased in the local market, ripe for imme-
diate consumption, and were transported to the labora-
tory, and stored at 4˚C until analysis. Six samples in each
case were evaluated, and at least two determinations were
performed for each analysis, and the average value was
2.2. Physicochemical Analyses
Weight per individual fruit was determined as the mean
of the individual weights of all the fruits in all three sam-
ples. The pH, titratable acidity (TA) and total soluble
solidscontent (SS) of two homogenized subsamples of
each sample were determined by the official Colombian
methods [12-14]; TA was expressed as (g citric acid)/
(100 g·fw) [for watermelon, (g malic acid)/(100 g·fw)],
and SS as ˚Brix. A ripeness index RI was defined as
SS/TA. Lycopene was extracted in duplicate and quanti-
fied as per Barrett et al. (2001) [15]. Briefly, 0.1 g of the
sample was weighed in a tube, and then 7 mL of 4:3
ethanol/hexane was added, the tube was capped, covered
with aluminum foil, and the flask was then placed in
crushed ice and shaken for 1 h, after which 1 mL of dis-
tilled water was added and shaking was continued for a
further 5 min. A sample of the organic (hexane) phase
was read at 503 nm compared with hexane in a Genesys
10 UV-Vis spectrophotometer (Thermo Electron Scien-
tific Instruments LLC, Madison, WI, USA).
The lycopene content in the hexane extracts were then
calculated according to: µg lycopene/g·fw = (A503 × 537
× 2.7)/(0.1 × 172) where 537 g/mole is the molecular
weight of lycopene, 2.7 is the volume (mL) of the hexane
layer, 0.1 g is the weight of sample added, and 172 mM1
is the extinction coefficient for lycopene in hexane.
2.3. Statistical Analysis
Data are presented as the means ± standard deviations of
the six samples in each case. The experimental date con-
form to one-factor complete randomized blocks designs,
and were analyzed by none-way ANOVAs using fixed
effects models and post hoc Tukey tests. Student’s t-tests
were used to compare titratable acidity (TA) and ripeness
index RI in tropical fruits. All analyses were performed
using SPSS for Windows v.17.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Lycopene Concentration
In Tables 1 and 2, relates lycopene content in the fruits
analyzed, and significantly different (p < 0.001) in all
samples. Chonto having a significantly greater content
than Milano [107 as against 88 µg/g·fw], and Milano a
significantly greater content than LL-Milano [58 µg/g·fw]
(Table 1). Lycopene is the major carotenoid of tomato
and comprises about 83% of the total pigment present
[16]. Our values of lycopene (Table 1), are higher than
Table 1. Characteristics of Chonto, Milano and Milano Larga Vida (LV) tomatoes: means ± deviations standard of two inde-
pendent analyses of each of six samples (n = 12).1
Cultivar Weight (g) pH Soluble solids (˚Brix)Titratable acidity2 Ripeness index RI Lycopene [µg/(g·fw)]
LL-Milano 192.50 ± 2.97a 4.67 ± 0.02a 3.31 ± 0.10b 0.37 ± 0.07b 9.08 ± 1.68a 57.78 ± 1.48c
Chonto 117.86 ± 9.26b 4.35 ± 0.12a 4.27 ± 0.50a 0.54 ± 0.03a 7.95 ± 1.15a 107.07 ± 1.69a
Milano 196.80 ± 9.07a 4.11 ± 0.57a 4.53 ± 0.23a 0.41 ± 0.02b 10.94 ± 0.77a 88.45 ± 9.97b
P value p < 0.001 NS p < 0.01 p < 0.05 NS p < 0.001
1Except for weight values, which are the means ± standard deviations of the individual weights of all the fruit in all six samples; 2In (g citric acid)/(100 g·fw).
Values with the same associated letter are not significantly different (Tukey, p 0.05).
Table 2. Characteristics of fruit: means ± deviations standard of two independent analyses of each of six samples (n = 12).1
Fruit Weight (g) pH Soluble solids (˚Brix)Titratable acidity2 Ripeness index RI Lycopene [µg/(g·fw)]
Watermelon 2452 ± 651.77a 5.33 ± 0.21a 7.36 ± 1.55a 0.08 ± 0.02 95.35 ± 39.03 110.05 ± 8.78a
Guava 154.20 ± 0.01c 3.91 ± 0.11b 7.53 ± 0.52a 0.42 ± 0.04a 18.06 ± 2.87b 36.10 ± 4.50b
Papaya 977.30 ± 0.05b 5.24 ± 0.77a 8.57 ± 1.50a 0.04 ± 0.01b 184.05 ± 53.22a 6.21 ± 1.50c
P value p < 0.001 p < 0.01 NS p < 0.001 p < 0.001 p < 0.001
1Except for weight values, which are the means ± standard deviations of the individual weights of all the fruit in all six samples; 2In (g malic acid)/(100 g·fw) for
watermelon, and (g citric acid)/(100 g·fw) for guava and papaya; Not available. Values with the same associated letter are not significantly different (Tukey, p 0.05).
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. FNS
Lycopene Concentration and Physico-Chemical Properties of Tropical Fruits
those reported by Hernández et al. (2006) [17]. [19 - 26
µg/(g·fw)], and Rodríguez-Amaya et al. (2008) [18]. [31
- 35 µg/(g·fw)]; but similar to those [77 - 150 µg/(g·fw)]
[10], and [55 - 150 µg/(g·fw)] [19].
Lycopene to constitute 84% - 97% of the total carote-
noid content of watermelon Perkins-Veazie et al. (2006)
[20] and Perkins-Veazie and Collins (2006) [21]. Our
values (Table 2), are higher than those reported by other
authors [50 - 73 µg/(g·fw)] [22], [50 - 65 µg/(g·fw)] [23],
[39 - 49 µg/(g·fw)] [24], and [33 - 41 µg/(g·fw)] [18],
and is within the range 30 - 120 µg/(g·fw) reported by
Perkins-Veazie et al. (2006) [20] and Charoensiri et al.
(2009) [25]. According to [22,20,26] differences in wa-
termelon lycopene content are mainly due to differences
in genetic make-up, illumination and water supply. Re-
searchers [27,28] found watermelons to have lycopene
concentrations respectively 60% and 40% higher than
those of tomatoes; in the present study the lycopene con-
tent of watermelon, 110 g/fw, was 2.8% greater than that
of Chonto tomato, 24% greater than that of Milano, and
90% greater than that of LL-Milano (Tables 1 and 2).
In guava, around 80% of carotenoid content is lyco-
pene [29]. Lycopene content Is lower (Table 2), than
those reported by Rodríguez-Amaya (1999) [47 - 53
µg/(g·fw)] [30]. Rodríguez-Amaya, et al. (2008) [53 - 83
µg/(g·fw)] [18], and Oliveira et al. (2010) [55 - 76, 50
µg/(g·fw)] [31], but higher than the very low values ob-
served by Inocent et al. (2007) [0.84 - 0.90 µg/(g·fw)]
[32]; these differences are probably due to both pre-har-
vest and post-harvest factors. Lycopene contributes 65%
of the total carotenoid content of pink papaya (the other
major carotenoids being cryptoxanthin and-carotene).
Our values (Table 2), is less than those reported by other
authors [16 - 80 µg/(g·fw)] [18], [19 - 40 µg/(g·fw)] [30],
[31 - 42.81 µg/(g·fw)] [31], [16 - 174 µg/(g·fw)] [33], [13
- 33 µg/(g·fw)] [34], and [14 - 34 µg/(g·fw)] [35], once
more, both pre-harvest and post-harvest factors seem
likely to be involved in these differences. On the basis of
the results of this study, published recommendations for
daily intake of lycopene (35 mg/day) [36], and of fruit
and vegetables in general (400 g/day) [37], would be
complied with by the following daily rations (among
innumerable other combinations): 606 g of Milano LV
tomato; 400 g of Chonto tomato, Milano tomato, Jenny
watermelon; 276 g of Jenny watermelon plus 124 g of
guava; or 331 g of Jenny watermelon plus 69 g of Mara-
dol papaya.
3.2. Physico-Chemical Properties
The weight, pH, SS, TA, and RI values can be seen in
Tables 1 and 2. The pH and RI of tomatoes fruits did not
differ significantly, by contrast, weight, SS, and TA,
content significant differences (Table 1). The three to-
mato cultivars differed significantly in soluble solids
content (p < 0.01), LL-Milano having lower average SS
than the others, 3.31 as against 4.3 - 4.5 Brix (Table 1).
They did differ in titratable acidity (p < 0.05), Chonto
having significantly more titratable acidity than Milano
or LL-Milano, 0.54 as against 0.41 and 0.37 (g citric
acid)/(100 g·fw), respectively (Table 1). The cultivar
weight range (Table 1), is greater than those observed by
authors who studied smaller tomato cultivars, e.g. 33 - 53
g [10], or 5 - 75 g. [38]. The pH (Table 1), is similar to
those observed by Fernández-Ruíz et al. (2004) [39].
3.86 - 4.79 g. The TA range of average values (Table 1),
is similar to those reported by Ruíz et al. (2005) [40], and
Odriozola-Serrano et al. (2008) [41], 0.27 - 0.54 and 0.34
- 0.59 (g citric acid)/(100 g·fw), respectively. The SS
values (Table 1), were lower than those reported by
Moraru et al. (2004) [10], Ruíz et al. (2005) [40],
Fernández-Ruíz et al. (2004) [39] 4.77 - 5.73, 4.10 - 5.70
and 3.97 - 7.27 Brix, respectively. The RI (Table 1), this
range lies within that observed by Rodríguez-Burruezo et
al (2005) [42], 5.5 - 15.5, and is narrower and mostly
lower than that observed by Ruíz et al. (2005) [40], 10.1
- 21.5.
The SS of fruits did not differ significantly, by contrast,
weight, pH, TA, and RI, significant differences (Table 2).
The average SS value (Table 2), is somewhat lower than
the range of 8.26 - 12.50 Brix observed in watermelons
by Proietti et al. (2008) [43], Perkins-Veazie and Collins
(2004) [23], and Bang et al. (2004) [22]. Similarly, the
pH (Table 2), is somewhat more acid than the range pH
5.57 - 5.84 that was found by these authors. However,
the titratable acidity (Table 2), coincides exactly with
that reported by Proietti et al. (2008) [43], for ungrafted
Ingrid watermelon, and the RI value (Table 2), is ac-
cordingly slightly smaller than that obtained by these
authors, 98.86. The pH, TA and SS values (Table 2), are
all within or close to the ranges observed among guavas
by Dos Reis et al. (2007) [44], and Brunini et al. (2003)
[45], pH 3.84 - 3.86, TA 0.41 - 0.67 (g citric acid)/(100
g·fw), SS 1.27 - 9.09 Brix. The pH, TA and RI values,
are all within, and the SS value just slightly below (Ta-
ble 2), the ranges observed by Santana et al. (2004) [46],
among 12 Brazilian papaya cultivars: pH 4.19 - 5.89, TA
0.04 - 0.16 (g citricacid)/(100 g·fw), SS 9-14 Brix, RI 68
- 233. Jain et al. (2011) [47], different values reported:
pH 4.39, TA 0.316 (g citricacid)/(100 g·fw), SS 12.40
Brix, and RI 39.24.
4. Conclusion
In this work, of all the fruits analyzed in this study, that
with the highest lycopene concentration was Jenny wa-
termelon, followed by Chonto, Milano and LL-Milano
tomatoes (in that order); the lycopene concentration of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. FNS
Lycopene Concentration and Physico-Chemical Properties of Tropical Fruits 761
guava was only about one-third that of Jenny watermelon,
and that of Maradol papaya about one-eighteenth. More-
over Milano tomato and Maradol papaya presented the
best physicochemical properties than other fruits.
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