Elemental Micronutrient Content and Horticultural Performance of Various Vegetable Amaranth Genotypes

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus sp.), a leafy vegetable crop consumed around the world, is actively promoted as a source of essential micronutrients to at-risk populations. Such promotion makes micronutrient content essential to the underlying value of this crop. However, the extent to which micronutrient content varies by effect of genotype is not clear, leaving breeders uninformed on how to prioritize micronutrient contents as the criteria for selection among other performance parameters. A total of 32 entries across seven Amaranthus species were field-grown and analyzed for Fe, Mg, Ca, Zn, yield, height, and canopy spread comprising 20 entries at New Jersey in 2013; 12 entries at Arusha, Tanzania, in 2014; and 20 entries at New Jersey in 2015. The genotype effect was significant in all trials for Fe, Mg, Ca, Zn, total yield, marketable yield, height, and canopy spread. The Fe content range was above and below the breeding target of 4.2 mg/100 g Fe in all environments except for New Jersey 2015, where all entries were found to accumulate in levels below the target. All entries in each of the environments contained levels of Ca and Mg above breeding targets, 300 mg/100 g Ca and 90 mg/100 g Mg. None of the entries in any environment met the Zn breeding target of 4.5 mg/100 g Zn.

Contributor Notes

This research was supported by the Horticulture Innovation Lab with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID EPA-A-00-09-00004), as part of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, for project titled “Improving nutrition with African indigenous vegetables” in eastern Africa. Funds were also provided by the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Fellowship from Purdue University with funding from USAID (A1102.2) in partial support of the senior author to conduct some of this fieldwork for his dissertation at the World Vegetable Center, in Arusha, Tanzania. We thank the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station (HATCH project 12131) and the World Vegetable Center for also contributing resources and logistical support. We thank John Bowman, USAID-Washington, D.C., and Beth Mitcham, UC-Davis for their support.

Corresponding author. E-mail: jimsimon@rutgers.edu.

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