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Quinoa crop biodiversity in Chile: an ancient plant cultivated with sustainable agricultural practices and producing grains of outstanding and diverse nutritional values

Miranda M., Bazile D., Fuentes F., Vega-Galvez A., Uribe E., Quispe I., Lemur R., Martinez E.A.. 2011. In : CIGR. Towards a sustainable food of chain: food process, bioprocessing and food quality management : 6th International CIGR Technical Symposium, Nantes, France, April 18-20, 2011. s.l. : s.n., 4 p.. International CIGR Symposium. 6, 2011-04-18/2011-04-20, Nantes (France).

Quinoa crop (Chenopodium quinoa) has been cultivated since the last seven thousand years in Latin America. However the nutritional and functional properties have been diffused only since the last decade. The exportation market to Northern countries is increasing at levels not seen previously for an organic product. Its ancient cultivation practices were normally sustainable even in Chile. However strong isolation of today' small farmers in Chile has provoked less access to international markets and also great genetic distances among cultivars from the long latitudinal and ecological gradient where this crop is cultivated (4000 m.a.s.l. at 19ºS to coastal areas at sea level between 18ºS to 40ºS). The nutritional diversity along this gradient has not been previously studied. This study focuses on the nutritional properties of five distinctive local land races found along Chile, belonging to different genetic pools, but collected from farmers that have not developed formal crop improvement, with the exemption of a single hybrid variety, also included in this study. Results showed that genetic variability of quinoa ecotypes plus the environmental diversity allow an also great nutritional diversity. Protein content had significant lower levels (12%) for northern ecotypes while higher values (16%) were found among the less known southern seed origins, cultivated by Mapuche people. While other properties like Vitamin B2 showed higher values in northern ecotypes, supporting the idea that genetic richness or diversity of quinoa ecotypes hide an also rich nutritional diversity. All the cultivars are managed under sustainable ecological practices, unique possibility among small-scale farmers.

Mots-clés : chenopodium quinoa; chili

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