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Inulin production by Vernonia herbacea as influenced by mineral fertilization and time of harvest

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Author(s): CARVALHO MARIA ANGELA MACHADO DE | PINTO MARCOS MECCA | FIGUEIREDO-RIBEIRO RITA DE CÁSSIA LEONE

Journal: Revista Brasileira de Botânica
ISSN 0100-8404

Volume: 21;
Issue: 3;
Date: 1998;
Original page

Keywords: Asteraceae | fructans | cerrado | mineral fertilization

ABSTRACT
The underground organs of Vernonia herbacea (Vell.) Rusby, known as rhizophores, acumulate 80% of their dry mass as fructans of the inulin type. In view of the growing industrial use of fructans as dietetic and general food products, and of their medical application, the present investigation aimed at evaluating the effect of mineral fertilization and period of cultivation on the production of these carbohydrates in field trials. Plants used in the experiments were obtained by vegetative propagation from rhizophores collected from plants growing in natural areas of the cerrado, and cultivated for two years. Fertilization consisted of N:P2O5:K2O (80:200:150 kg.ha-1) plus 80 kg.ha-1 nitrogen as dressing. Soil fertilization did not stimulate biomass or inulin production, but in the second year of cultivation a dramatic gain in biomass and inulin was detected in both treated and control plants. Inulin production varied from 113 to 674 kg.ha-1 which corresponds to 43% of the rhizophore dry mass. The composition of fructans was not altered by fertilization, although treated plants had a higher proportion of sucrose and fructans with degree of polymerization 3-8 in the second year of cultivation. The results identify this species as a fructan source similar to other commercial crops and recommend further agronomic studies, aimed at increasing the production of this polysaccharide.
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