Differences in onion pungency due to cultivars, growth environment, and bulb sizes Academic Article uri icon


  • This study was conducted to determine the effects of genetic and environmental factors on onion pungency, estimated as pyruvic acid levels. Genetically identical clones were grown at three different field locations and in a greenhouse. Onion pungency was significantly influenced by clone type, location, and their interaction. Genetic differences were the major determining factor of onion pungency (81.3% of total variation). Location, including all environmental factors, and the clone location interaction comprised 11.4% and 7.3% of the total variation, respectively. The magnitude of the pungency difference among field-grown onions was about 1.5 mol/ml. The pungency levels were not positively correlated with soil sulfur nutrition levels, which ranged from 16 to 97 ppm. Within clones, onion pungency levels were loosely inversely correlated with increasing bulb weight. The clones proved to have the most uniform pungency (8% CV), followed by hybrids (10.6% CV) and open-pollinated cultivars (21.3% CV). We have demonstrated that genetic factors were determinant of onion pungency. Environmental factors influenced pungency to a lesser degree. Therefore, choosing cultivars with low pungency, ideal growing environments and proper sulfur nutrition control, are key factor in producing sweet onions. 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Yoo, K. S., Pike, L., Crosby, K., Jones, R., & Leskovar, D.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Yoo, Kil Sun||Pike, Leonard||Crosby, Kevin||Jones, Rick||Leskovar, Daniel

publication date

  • October 2006