VARIABILITY FOR ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY IN THE U.S. COWPEA [Vigna unguiculata (L) WALP.] CORE COLLECTION

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX. 77843-2133

Antioxidants are important to human health, as they are responsible for reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, hence motivating researchers to examine crop plants for available antioxidant compounds. There is also increasing interest in the use of antioxidants from plants instead of synthetic products. In order to evaluate variability of antioxidant activity (AOA) in cowpea, 697 cowpea accessions from the U.S. Cowpea Core Collection obtained from the Regional Plant Introduction Station, Griffin, Ga., were analyzed for AOA expressed as μg trolox equivalents/gdw. Two grams of dry seed from each accession were ground, extracted in methanol and analyzed for AOA using the free radical, 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), method. A large variation in AOA within the core collection, ranging from 1859 μg·g–1 dw (PI 180355, pigmented seed coat) to 42.6 μg·g–1 dw (PI 583100, cream seed coat), was observed. A least significant difference of 131.5 (p =0.05) was obtained. Higher AOA was manifested by accessions with pigmented seed coats. Accessions that were speckled, striped or had a pigmented eye were moderate in AOA, while the cream types were generally low. Variability in AOA observed among cowpea accessions suggests that breeding for high AOA can be successfully conducted. Accessions with high AOA could also be used to extract antioxidants for industrial purposes. Some accessions were a mixture of various colors and patterns, making it difficult to classify them into a particular category. Therefore, there is need to ensure purity of these accessions by ascertaining whether the mixtures are physical, i.e., combination of different varieties, or are composed of segregating material.

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