What is New? German-Peruvian Project Meeting.
June 30, we held a project meeting between the German and the Peruvian partners. Also industrial partners and representatives of the the project bearer participated. Numerous goals of the project had been achieved meanwhile. There is a simple gene test to authenticate the Peruvian Amaranth (A. caudatus). Furthermore, the Peruvian Amaranth was found to produce much more of the valuable unsaturated linolenic acid as compared to its Mexican relative (A. hypochondriacus). The detailed analysis of an extensive experiment, where different species of Amaranth were cultivated under Mexican, Peruvian, and German conditions, demonstrated that the Mexican Amaranth is sensitive to the cool nights of the Andes and has to invest its unsaturated fatty acids to produce the stress hormone jasmonic acid (the plant version of our adrenalin). However, we also found out that the Peruvian Amaranth can only produce omega-3 fatty acids under certain conditions. The bottle neck seems to be the enzyme delta-6 elongase that converts the precursor stearidonic acid into the desired DHA. Also the technical aspects of oil production advanced. Here, novel technologies, such as extraction by pulsed electrical fields, are explored.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Nick
AMOR - Amaranth, the Superfood of the Inka revisited
Amaranth was the Superfood of the Inka. Their esteem for this relative of the better known Quinoa was that high that they even worshipped this plant as deity. For this reason, the Spanish posed the cultivation Amaranth under punishment since it was considered as "idolatry". Only in the 1970ies the Peruvian scientist Luis Kalinowski discovered several plants, that had been secretly grown by Indio families for ritual purposes, and ventured to promote Amaranth cultivation in Peru.
In the meantime, Amaranth is also known in Europe and is traded, mostly in popped form, as component of Muesli, bars, or even chocolates. Less known is Amaranth oil that hides exciting potential. Especially the discovery that this oil contains the highly valuable Omega-3-Fatty Acids (which we normally have to take up from sea fish), opens new perspectives for a vegan diet (forget about fish oil capsules!).
In our German-Peruvian cooperation project, this potential will be unlocked for the nutrition industry. At the same time, we will develop science-based quality standards to contribute to more consumer safety.