Variation in Lycopene and Lycopenoates, Antioxidant Capacity, and Fruit Quality of Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea [Pursh]Nutt.)



Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea [Pursh] Nutt.) has historically been used as an important food source by North American indigenous peoples, but its commercial production has been limited. These plants produce fruits rich in carotenoid and phenolic antioxidants, which may have health benefits that may make buffaloberry commercially valuable. Here, we examined these constituents in the fruit of 7 Dakota-grown buffaloberry selections. Primary carotenoids were determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectral analysis and by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to be lycopene (0.27 ± 0.02 g/kg FW) and methyl apo-6’-lycopenoate (MA6L; 0.32 ± 0.03/kg FW). MA6L comprised the greatest proportion (55%) of carotenoid antioxidants, but its role in human nutrition is still to be evaluated. The fruit contained high total phenolics concentrations (9.06 ± 0.71 g gallic acid equivalents/kg FW). Hydrophilic antioxidant capacity among the 7 selections averaged 49.0 ± 6.6 mmol trolox equivalents/kg FW, respectively, as measured by ferric reducing ability of plasma assay. The soluble solids and titratable acids concentrations were 21% and 2.2%, respectively. This species is adapted to poor soils and can tolerate drier climates. In the Dakotas, buffaloberry flourishes on the American Indian Tribal Reservations, yielding copious amounts of health-beneficial fruit for fresh and processing markets, making it a potentially valuable new crop for marginal lands.

Practical Application

Buffaloberry, which grows on marginal lands on Indian Reservations in the Dakotas, produces fruits that contain principally lycopene and methyl apo-6’-lycopenoate (an acidic derivative) that may provide health benefits and marketable produce for consumption and sale. The fruit are a traditional food of the indigenous peoples of the region and have found favor with several commercial wine producers. The acidic lycopene derivative may become a valuable natural food colorant.