Bioactive Compounds and Morphology in Opuntia Spp. Fruits from Portuguese Ecotypes

Carlos M.G. REIS1,2; Cecilia GOUVEIA1; Maria C. VITORINO1; Luiz C. GAZARINI3; Maria M. RIBEIRO4,5; Fátima PERES1,6
1 Escola Superior Agrária, Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Departamento de Ciências da Vida e dos Alimentos, 6001-909 Castelo Branco, Portugal
2 Centro de Recursos Naturais, Ambiente e Sociedade (CERNAS-IPCB), Bencanta, 3045-601 Coimbra, Portugal
3 Universidade de Évora, Departamento de Biologia, Escola de Ciências e Tecnologia, ICAAM – Instituto de Ciências Agrarias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal
4 Escola Superior Agrária, Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Departamento de Recursos Naturais e Desenvolvimento Sustentável, 6001-909 Castelo Branco, Portugal
5 Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Centro de Estudos Florestais (CEF), 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
6 Universidade de Lisboa, LEAF, Instituto Superior Agronomia, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal


Reis, C. M. G., C. Gouveia, M. C. Vitorino, L. C. Gazarini, M. M. Ribeiro and F. Peres, 2017. Bioactive compounds and morphology in Opuntia spp. fruits from Portuguese ecotypes. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 23 (6): 929–938

The Opuntia spp. has minimal soil and water requirements, and the O. ficus-indica, in particular is sought to be an alternative for the Mediterranean region agricultural economy. The morphology, bioactive compounds and antioxidant properties of fruits were studied in twenty Portuguese ecotypes belonging to four Opuntia species (O. ficus-indica, O. robusta, O. dillenii and O. elata). The ecotypes were compared with the O. ficus-indica cultivars ‘Bianca’, ‘Gialla’ and ‘Rossa’. The fruits from Opuntia spp. ecotypes displayed variability in morphological and bioactive characteristics. Among O. ficus-indica ecotypes, the orange pulp fruits were larger, heavier and had a higher percentage of pulp as well as a lower percentage of seeds compared to the white pulp fruits. However, the weight of 100 seeds was lower in the white pulp ecotypes. The OFI-04 ecotype contrasted the other OFI ecotypes due to its pale yellow pulp, ovoid shape, and low seed weight per fruit as well as the amount of seeds as a percentage of pulp weight. The O. dillenii ecotypes had the highest betalain content, total phenolic compounds, and antioxidant activity, while O. elata had the highest ascorbic acid content. Both O. dillenii and O. elata had the highest acidity values. The red pulp cv. Rossa had the highest betalain content among the O. ficus-indica populations, followed by the orange and white pulp ecotypes. The highest amount of total phenolic compounds was found in the white pulp O. ficus-indica ecotypes. The hierarchical clustering analysis revealed that the ecotypes could be grouped into four major groups, and geographical origin was unrelated to the clustering pattern. This study provides original data on the morphology and bioactive compounds of Opuntia spp. fruits from Portuguese ecotypes.

Key words: ascorbic acid; betalains; cactus pear; fruit morphology; phenolic compounds

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