Species determination of pine nuts in commercial samples causing pine nut syndrome

Aase Æ. Mikkelsen, Flemming Jessen, Nicolai Z. Ballin

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Consumption of pine nuts from the species of Pinus armandii has been reported to cause dysgeusia, commonly known as pine mouth, or pine nut syndrome (PNS). However, the number of reports on pine nut consumptions of the different species and PNS is limited. This leaves open the possibility that other pine species than P. armandii could be involved in PNS as well. This study investigated 18 samples involved in PNS and received at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration in 2011 through 2012. Samples were subjected to gas chromatographic analysis of fatty acids. The content of 11 individual fatty acids was used together with the diagnostic index and the sum of Δ5-fatty acids as diagnostic parameters. Diagnostic parameters from samples were then compared to reference material and literature data to determine the species. In a limited number of samples, the diagnostic parameters matched neither our reference materials nor literature data. However, the morphology, the fatty acid analysis, and externally obtained DNA sequencing data suggest a P. armandii subspecies or a variety. With these possible P. armandii subspecies, P. armandii was identified in all analyzed samples. The application of principal component analysis (PCA) to the data set showed a satisfactory separation of the majority of the 13 pine species included in the study.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Control
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)19-25
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • DI - diagnostic index
  • FA - fatty acid(s)
  • GC - gas chromatography
  • NMR - nuclear magnetic resonance
  • PCA - principal component analysis
  • PNS - pine nut syndrome
  • RM - reference material
  • S - sample


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