Staple food fortification is a rational and economic way to improve the health status of poor income consumers. Lutein is an important antioxidant, and its intake is associated with lower risk of macular degeneration (blindness). We studied the scope to improve lutein concentration in chickpea grains by routine farming practices including tillage, and phosphorus and potassium fertilization. In addition, the association between lutein concentration and grain weight was investigated. The genetic (cultivar) effect on lutein concentration greatly exceeded the husbandry effects. High-lutein concentration in chickpea grains was recessive to low-lutein concentration. High-lutein concentration in the studied material was associated with low-grain weight, similar to results obtained from crosses involving wild chickpea. Breeding large seeded chickpea with enhanced lutein concentration may be difficult due to the association of lutein promoting alleles with low-grain weight alleles. However, our results confirm that chickpea grain lutein concentration trait is relatively stable, due to strong genetic control. Therefore, high-lutein cultivars are likely to maintain their performance even when grown under diverse field conditions.
- Nutritional quality
- Stable lutein phenotype