21.01.2022: Endangered Kiwicha.

The True Peruvian Amaranth (A. caudatus), also known as Kiwicha, has not been as intensively subject to breeding as compared to its Mexican sisters that also dominate international trading. However, kiwicha provides several nutritional advantages, such as a higher activity of antioxidants, a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids, and a higher content of the amino acid lysine, which is often underrepresented in plant proteins. To safeguard and develop these valuable traits, it is crucial to preserve the authenticity of seed material. Unfortunately, many Amaranth growers, in Peru and elsewhere, are not aware of the differences between Amaranth species. As a result, growers often use imported seeds. This could pose a serious threat to the existence of Kiwicha, not only, because it is more rarely planted, but also, because there will be introgression from imported varieties, such that its authenticity is on stake. We wanted to find out, whether these considerations are just academic spectres, or whether this problem has already turned relevant. The answer is a clear YES. Out of 12 seed samples that were collected in Peru in summer 2021, 3 turned out to be "fake Kiwicha". The genetic fingerprint developed by our colleague Dr. Adnan Kanbar could detect this beyond doubt. Thus, it is urgent to come up with ideas, how quality and authenticity of Amaranth seeds in Peru can be preserved. Contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Nick