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Ivette Guzman, Krystal Vargas, Francisco Chacon, Calen McKenzie, and Paul W. Bosland

This study investigated the diversity of carotenoids and phenolics in germplasm from three Capsicum (chile pepper) species, Capsicum annuum, Capsicum baccatum, and Capsicum chinense. Lutein, a yellow-pigmented carotenoid, and phenolics, a group of secondary metabolites, are reported to have health-promoting properties. The germplasm studied matured to a yellow color. The hypothesis was that all yellow fruits would contain either the carotenoid lutein, a yellow pigment, or a large amount of phenolics, a group of secondary metabolites that may be yellow among other colors. Thirty-one Capsicum accessions were grown in the field over a period of two seasons. On a dry weight (DW) basis, lutein ranged from 0.14 to 94.2 μg·g−1, and total phenolics ranged from 5.79 to 15.01 mg·g−1. No lutein was detected in one accession and β-carotene, another health-promoting compound, was lacking in four accessions. Accessions were grouped into four groups according to a principal component analysis plot. Results from this study indicate that in only nine accessions, lutein represented at least 50% of the total carotenoid amounts in each accession. These accessions are desirable not only as a source of dietary lutein, a natural yellow pigment, but also as genetic material that can be used to breed for higher lutein Capsicum. Therefore, yellow color is not a good indicator of lutein content and phytochemical analysis is required to determine the content of health-promoting compounds.