Saponins occur in numerous plants, including agaves, determining benefic and harmful properties to humans; their presence may favor using plants as soap and other products, but also they may cause caustic effects producing contact dermatitis. In domestication, favorable and unfavorable properties of saponins may cause an increase or decrease of their content, respectively. This study quantified and identified saponins among wild and managed populations of three agave species: A. cupreata Trel. et Berger, A. inaequidens Koch with wild and cultivated populations used for mescal production, and A. hookeri Jacobi, existing exclusively cultivated, used for production of the fermented beverage pulque. We studied 272 plants from 19 populations, quantifying contents of crude saponins through spectrometry. In 12 populations, the saponins types were identified by High Performance Liquid Chromatography–Mass-Spectrography-Time-of-Flight HPLC-MS-TOF. The highest crude saponins content was recorded in A. hookeri (26.09 mg/g), followed by A. cupreata (19.85 and 15.17 mg/g in wild and cultivated populations, respectively). For A. inaequidens, we recorded 14.21, 12.95, and 10.48 mg/g in wild, silvicultural managed and cultivated populations, respectively. We identified 18 saponins types, A. inaequidens showing all of them. A hecogenin glycoside (HG1) is found in high amounts in A. hookeri but in low quantities in A. inaequidens and A. cupreata. A. inaequidens had the greatest diversity of saponins. The contents of crude saponins in A. inaequidens and A. cupreata decrease with management intensity, but contrarily to what we expected, it was the highest in A. hookeri. We hypothesize that such high amount could be due to some saponins, probably HG1, may be precursors of sugars.
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 9, 2018
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