What is New? A PCR Gene Test for True Amaranth.

At the Botanical Institute of the KIT our colleague Dr. Adnan Kanbar was able to detect a simple gene test that allows to distinguish the true Peruvian Amaranth (A. caudatus) from other species of Amaranth that are traded under the same name. The test is based on the gene Delta-6-Desaturase responsible for the formation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The assay makes use of a difference in the sequence of DNA bases that had been discovered earlier during comparative genome sequencing.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Nick

AMOR - Amaranth, the Superfood of the Inka revisited

AMaranth as source of Omega fatty acids and gluten free grains: Marker-assisted bReeding and cultivar selection to obtain functional healthy oils and raw materials for food-processing

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.