Study and characterization of an ancient European flint white maize rich in anthocyanins: millo corvo from galicia
Lago C., Landoni M., Cassani E., Cantaluppi E., Doria E., Nielsen E., Giorgi A., Pilu R.
In the second half of the last century, the American dent hybrids began to be widely grown, leading to the disappearance or marginalization of the less productive traditional varieties. Nowadays the characterization of traditional landraces can help breeders to discover precious alleles that could be useful for modern genetic improvement and allow a correct conservation of these open pollinated varieties (opvs). In this work we characterized the ancient coloured cultivar “Millo Corvo” typical of the Spanish region of Galicia. We showed that this cultivar accumulates high amounts of anthocyanins (83.4 mg/100g flour), and by TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography) and HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) analysis, we demonstrated that they mainly consisted of cyanidin. Mapping and sequencing data demonstrate that anthocyanin pigmentation is due to the presence of the red color1 gene(r1), a transcription factor driving the accumulation of this pigment in the aleurone layer. Further chemical analysis showed that the kernels are lacking in carotenoids, as confirmed by genetic study. Finally a DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) radical scavenging ability test showed that Millo Corvo, even though lacking carotenoids, has a high antioxidant ability, and could be considered as a functional food due to the presence of anthocyanins.