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More than protein: The potential for rapid assessment of bioactive compounds in Australian crops
presentationposted on 28.06.2021, 23:57 authored by Joel JohnsonJoel Johnson, Kerry WalshKerry Walsh, Janice ManiJanice Mani, Surya BhattaraiSurya Bhattarai, Mani NaikerMani Naiker
Consumer demand is increasing for functional foods that provide fortified health benefits, in addition to their conventional nutritional significance. This provides an opportunity for Australian crop growers and processors to segment the market through demonstrating health benefits in their product. For example, the Queensland developed plum variety Queen Garnett is marketed by Nutrafruit with emphasis on its elevated anthocyanin content, which conveys cardiovascular benefits such as decreased risk of thrombosis. The major organic compounds associated with perceived health benefits include phenolic acids, flavonoids and anthocyanins. These are typically measured through time-consuming and expensive analytical techniques, such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). However, to implement the measurement of bioactive compounds in a timely and cost-effective fashion, as required for routine analysis of crops at a commercial scale, more rapid methods are required. Combining instrumental techniques such as infrared spectroscopy with chemometrics shows promise for the prediction of bioactive compounds across a number of Australian crops. While the accuracy of such techniques on a single sample will remain lower than that of traditional wet-chemistry or separation-based techniques, they may still have utility for approximating the content of bioactive compounds for quality assurance purposes – e.g. on a scale of ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ content. Spectroscopic techniques may also permit more representative sampling of bulk materials. Furthermore, they may aid in screening large sample sizes of germplasm in breeding programs aiming to develop new genotypes with improved levels of the targeted bioactive compounds. This presentation outlines recent work at CQUniversity for rapid detection and prediction of bioactive compounds in crops, including in mungbean germplasm grown under agronomic evaluation in northern Australia. This holistic approach for tropical legume crop evaluation incorporating the crop adaption and assessment of health-benefitting compounds could provide growers and industry with a competitive edge for pulses produced in Northern Australia.