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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Simplified Qualitative Method for Canavanine in Seeds and Sprouts

Author
item Rajkowski, Kathleen

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 2, 2003
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Citation: Rajkowski, K.T. 2004. SIMPLIFIED QUALITATIVE METHOD FOR CANAVANINE IN SEEDS AND SPROUTS. Journal of Food Protection. 67(1):212-214.

Interpretive Summary: Sprout growers are looking for alternative disinfectants to reduce the bacterial pathogens on seeds. Canavanine is a natural inhibitor of cell growth and is excreted by germinating alfalfa seeds. The published method to identify the canavanine in alfalfa seeds uses environmentally unfriendly chemicals and is time consuming. A simple, quick identification method was developed which uses micro silica plates and an alcohol:water solvent system. This method was used to determine that the amount of canavanine in both the irradiated and non-irradiated alfalfa seeds was the same. This method was also used to determine the amount of canavanine in the sprout water during growth. Others can use this simple method to determine the effective amount to be used to reduce bacterial pathogen on seeds used for sprouting.

Technical Abstract: The major stored nitrogen compound in alfalfa seeds is canavanine. In order to identify this non-protein amino acid, from seed extract and sprout water, a micro thin-layer chromatography method was developed. Successful separation and identification was achieved using micro silica plates, a 70:30 ethyl alcohol:water solvent system and 1% ammonium disodium pentacyanoammineferrate II (PCAF) for color development. This quick method was used to identify canavanine from irradiated and non-irradiated alfalfa and clover seed extracts and alfalfa sprout water. Broccoli and radish seed extracts were negative for canavanine. This simple method is useful to track the release and decrease of canavanine in the sprout water.

Last Modified: 7/31/2014