To study the effects of chitosan on the productivity and nutritional quality of soybean (Glycine max L.) sprouts, soybean seeds were soaked in solutions containing 1,000 ppm chitosan of low (<10 kDa), medium (50 to 100 kDa), or high (>1,000 kDa) molecular weight, and the respiration, growth, and vitamin C content of the sprouts were subsequently evaluated. Sprouts treated with high molecular weight chitosan exhibited a significant increase in respiration, 5%, within 1 day of treatment. Chitosan effectively increased the growth of the sprouts: sprouts treated with high molecular weight chitosan showed increases of 3%, 1%, 3%, 1%, and 12% in the total length, hypocotyl length, root length, hypocotyl thickness, and fresh weight, respectively, as compared to a control. The growth-improving effects of chitosan were proportional to the molecular weight of the molecule used in the treatment. Chitosan treatment did not result in any significant reduction in vitamin C content or postharvest chlorophyll formation, traits that determine the nutritional and marketing values of soybean sprouts. All these results suggest that soaking soybean seeds in a solution of chitosan, especially of high molecular weight, may effectively enhance the productivity of soybean sprouts without adverse effects on the nutritional and postharvest characteristics.
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