Geographical classification of Iranian and Italian saffron sources based on HPLC analysis and UV–Vis spectra of aqueous extracts

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Twenty-nine different Iranian and Italian saffron samples have been characterized using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipped with UV–Vis detection as well as ultraviolet–visible (UV–Vis) spectroscopy methods by preparing aqueous extracts according to the ISO 3632 standard. UV–Vis spectral data in the wavelength range of 200–600 nm and the intensities of the chromatographic peaks attributed to picrocrocin, safranal and crocetin esters were considered as variables in principal component analysis (PCA) and linear discriminant analysis (LDA) methods to classify Iranian and Italian saffron samples based on their geographical origin. The geographical classification results based on HPLC data indicated safranal, cis-crocetin (β-d-gentiobiosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (C3Gg), trans-crocetin (β-d-neapolitanosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (T4ng), and trans-crocetin (β-d-gentiobiosyl)(β-d-glucosyl) ester (T3Gg) as the most discriminant. The best classification performance was achieved by the UV–Vis spectra where the most discriminant regions can be associated with both cis- and trans-crocins (326–327 and 260–264 nm), safranal (310 nm), picrocrocin (240–250 nm), and kaempferol derivatives (265 and 340–350 nm).

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