Boosting Pulse Nutritional Properties - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Researchers look at enhancing the nutritional value of Saskatchewan pulses through improved levels of folate and carotenoids
While pulse crops are already rich in carotenoids and folates, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is working to further increase their concentrations in pulse crops as part of the U of S biofortification strategy, being supported through work at the Crop Development Centre (CDC).
As a first step towards understanding the existing levels of carotenoids and folates, Dr. Tom Warkentin, a professor and plant breeder at U of S, and a group of researchers conducted four projects to evaluate the carotenoid and folate profiles of different pulses.
“Our research (funded by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture) is aimed at understanding the variation in carotenoid and folate profiles of field pea, chickpea, and dry bean,” Warkentin says. “Similar research on lentil is being conducted through the Lentil Industrial Research Chair program.”
The researchers had four main objectives:
- To determine the concentration of carotenoids present in pea and chickpea cultivars grown in diverse environments
- To determine the distribution of carotenoids in whole seeds and different parts of the seed in contrasting pea and chickpea cultivars
- To determine the concentration of carotenoids present in a larger panel of genetically diverse pea and chickpea accessions derived from the CDC association mapping panels
- To determine the concentration of folates in selected genotypes of pea, lentil, chickpea, and bean
In the first study, researchers discovered that green cotyledon pea cultivars had approximately two times more total carotenoids than yellow cotyledon pea cultivars, while Desi chickpea cultivars had greater concentration of total carotenoids than Kabuli cultivars.
In the second study, the researchers evaluated a more diverse set of pea (94) and chickpea (125) accessions, which arose from the association mapping panels of each crop developed at the CDC. Among the chickpea accessions, DH45-1 and ICRISAT-121D had the greatest total carotenoid concentration. Among the pea accessions, MPG 87 and Mini had the greatest total carotenoid concentration.
The third study of seed fractions revealed that carotenoid concentration was greatest in the cotyledon followed by embryo axis and seed coat in both pea and chickpea cultivars. Chickpea cultivars CDC Ebony, which has a black seed coat, and CDC Jade, which has a green seed coat, had greater concentration of total carotenoids in seed coats than the other chickpea cultivars evaluated.
In the fourth study, the researchers identified folate components using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Six different tetrahydrofolate derivatives and folic acid were identified in pulse crop seeds. Total folate concentration was highest in the chickpea varieties tested, followed by bean and lentil, with pea having the lowest. The varieties tested differed in their concentrations suggesting that breeding for increased concentration is possible.
Warkentin says the four studies reveal that functional and nutritional breeding – biofortification – for improved carotenoid profiles, along with improved yield and disease resistance, should improve the nutritional value of pulse crops.
“This research revealed new sources of variation for nutritionally important traits like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin that can be exploited to enhance the genetic potential of pulses,” he explains. “These results indicated that diverse pea and chickpea accessions are rich in carotenoids, greater than previously reported in rice, wheat, potato, banana, and cassava.”
Pulse crop seeds are already highly nutritious. Further improvements to varieties will help to maintain Canada’s position as a preferred supplier. “Consumption of peas and chickpeas with enhanced carotenoid concentration could address the problem of vitamin A deficiency and age-related macular degeneration. Consumption of adequate amounts of folates can help address health related problems including neural tube defects, impaired cognitive function, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and various cancers.”
SPG Investment: $104,098
Project Length: 3 years
Co-Funder: Agriculture Development Fund $104,800
Project Lead: Dr. Tom Warkentin - Professor, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Resesarch Program Chair, Plant Sciences, Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan