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Int J Biomed Sci. 2015 Sep;11(3):131-45.

Peruvian Maca (Lepidium peruvianum): (I) Phytochemical and Genetic Differences in Three Maca Phenotypes.

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Faculty of Health Studies, Charles Sturt University & Therapeutic Research, TTD International Pty Ltd, 39 Leopard Ave., Elanora, QLD 4221, Australia;
Research Institute of Medicinal Plants, 27 Libelta St., 61-707 Poznan, Poland;
Faculty of Food Technology, Cracow University of Agriculture, 122 Balicka St., 30-149 Krakow, Poland.


Glucosinolates were previously reported as physiologically-important constituents present in Peruvian Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon) and linked to various therapeutic functions of differently-colored Peruvian Maca hypocotyls. In two separate Trials, three colours of Maca hypocotyls "Black", "Red" and "Yellow" (termed "Maca phenotypes"), were selected from mixed crops of Peruvian Maca for laboratory studies as fresh and after being dried. Individual Maca phenotypes were cultivated in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes at 4,200m a.s.l. (Junin and Ninacaca). Glucosinolate levels, chromatographic HPLC profiles and DNA variability in the investigated Maca phenotypes are presented. Genotypic profiles were determined by the ISSR-PCR and RAPD techniques. Compared to the Black and Red phenotypes, the Yellow phenotype contained much lower Glucosinolate levels measured against Glucotropaeolin and m-methoxy-glucotropaeolin standards, and exhibited different RAPD and ISSR-PCR reactions. The Red Maca phenotype showed the highest concentrations of Glucosinolates as compared to the Black and Yellow Maca. It appears that the traditional system used by natives of the Peruvian Andean highlands in preparing Maca as a vegetable dish (boiling dried Maca after soaking in water), to supplement their daily meals, is as effective as laboratory methods - for extracting Glucosinolates, which are considered to be one of the key bioactive constituents responsible for therapeutic functions of Peruvian Maca phenotypes. It is reasonable to assume that the HPLC and DNA techniques combined, or separately, may assist in determining ID and "Fingerprints" identifying individual Peruvian Maca phenotypes, hence confirming the authenticity of marketable Maca products. The above assumptions warrant further laboratory testing.


Glucosinolates; HPLC profiles; Hypocotyl colours; Peruvian Maca; Phenotypes


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