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ARS Home » Plains Area » Houston, Texas » Children's Nutrition Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334615

Research Project: Nutritional Metabolism in Mothers, Infants, and Children

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Leaf protein and mineral concentrations across the "miracle tree" genus Moringa

Author
item Olson, Mark - UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTONOMA DE MEXICO
item Sankaran, Renuka - CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
item Fahey, Jed - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
item Grusak, Michael
item Odee, David - KENYA FORESTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (KEFRI)
item Nouman, Wasif - BAHAUDDIN ZAKARIYA UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/6/2016
Publication Date: 7/26/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/63181
Citation: Olson, M.E., Sankaran, R.P., Fahey, J.W., Grusak, M.A., Odee, D., Nouman, W. 2016. Leaf protein and mineral concentrations across the "miracle tree" genus Moringa. PLoS One. 11(7):e0159782. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159782.

Interpretive Summary: The moringa tree, Moringa oleifera, is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree cultivated across the lowland dry tropics worldwide for its nutritious leaves. Despite its nutritious reputation, there has been no systematic survey of the variation in leaf nutritional quality across moringa types grown worldwide, or of the other species of the genus. To guide informed use of moringa, we surveyed protein, macro-, and micro-nutrients across a number of tree samples grown in a common garden setting. Moringa types were identified that had higher levels of leaf protein or calcium, two important human nutrients. Our results will help breeders set priorities for which types of moringa could be promoted for food consumption and nutritional value in different developing world countries.

Technical Abstract: The moringa tree Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree cultivated across the lowland dry tropics worldwide for its nutritious leaves. Despite its nutritious reputation, there has been no systematic survey of the variation in leaf nutritional quality across M. oleifera grown worldwide, or of the other species of the genus. To guide informed use of moringa, we surveyed protein, macro-, and micro- nutrients across 67 common garden samples of 12 Moringa taxa, including 23 samples of M. oleifera. Moringa oleifera, M. concanensis, M. stenopetala, an M. concanensis X oleifera hybrid, and M. longituba were highest in protein, with M. ruspoliana having the highest calcium levels. A protein-dry leaf mass tradeoff may preclude certain breeding possibilities, e.g. maximally high protein with large leaflets. These findings identify clear priorities and limitations for improved moringa varieties with traits such as high protein, calcium, or ease of preparation.