Amino Acid Composition of Dioscorea dumetorum Varieties
The crude protein contents and amino acid compositions of two varieties of Dioscorea dumetorum (edible and wild) were determined. The crude protein (g/l00g) of the wild variety (11.37) was significantly higher (P<0.05) than the edible variety (7.0). The amino acid profiles showed both varieties to be limiting in lysine, methionine and cystine. The wild variety had tryptophan (0.60g/100g total aa), phenylalanine (3.01g/100g total aa), threonine (2.93g/100g total aa) and valine (3.6g/100g total aa) in substantial amounts when compared to the reference FAO pattern. Aspartic acid (4.47-9.28/100g total aa) was the most abundant amino acid in both varieties with the highest amount recorded for the wild variety. The chemical scores of the essential amino acids were tryptophan (60.0), threonine (43.5), valine (39.6), methionine (28.0) isoleucine (34.5), leucine (32.0), tyrosine and phenylalanine (39.0) and lysine (20.72) for the edible and tryptophan (117.0), threonine (73.25), valine (72.0), methionine (54.0) isoleucine (64.75), leucine (65.71), tyrosine and phenylalanine (83.67) and lysine (44.18) for the for the wild variety. This results being the first amino acid profiles recorded for this yam suggests that the wild D. dumetorum is richer in amino acid content than the edible variety and is likely to be of more benefit in human and animal nutrition.
Yam is one of the staple foods in Nigeria and other tropical African
countries. There are however, several varieties of yam. The Dioscorea
dumetorum varieties are of importance in a growing economy such as
the Nigerians economy. Generally, yams play significant role in the diets
of most Africans, the Caribbeans and South Pacific, where it has been
reported to represent 12% of the feeding (Malaurie, 1998). Dioscorea
dumetorum is one of the first four varieties of yam that are indigenous
to Africa and probably Nigeria (Coursey, 1967; Okonkwo, 1985; Martins
and Ruberte, 1975; Onwueme, 1978; FAO / WHO / UNU, 1985). Starch obtained
from D. dumetorum has been reported to be as digestible as cornstarch
(Delpeuch and Favier, 1980). This is because of its tiny polygonal or
spherical granules with a type A X-ray diffraction structure that is similar
to that of cereals (Robin, 1976).
In order to meet the escalating need for energy and protein in developing
countries, considerable attention is focused on foodstuff with low concentration
of proteins because of the critical role they play when used as dietary
staples. Yams have been reported to provide more protein per hectare per
year than maize, rice and soybeans, in spite of their low protein content
(Idusogie, 1971). In Nigeria, there are many foodstuffs, which make up
part of the traditional food system but their economic and nutritional
values have not been well explored. Such is the case with Dioscorea
dumetorum especially the wild variety that is eaten only in times
of food scarcity. The tubers of both the edible and wild Dioscorea
dumetorum are processed by boiling and in the case of the wild variety,
sliced, tied in a jute sack and left in a running water for 3 days to
remove poisonous and / or bitter compounds that are believed to be injurious
In spite of the available reports on the high protein content of D.
dumetorum, especially the cultivated one (Agbor and Treche, 1983)
and the high consumption of this yam, there is little or no information
on the amino acid composition of the D. dumetorum protein. But
we do know that the amino acid analysis of foodstuff is an important index
of its food quality and can elucidate useful information on the nutritional
quality and authenticity of food products and sources of raw materials
used in food manufacture. For one to stimulate the consumption and mass
production of the two varieties of the D. dumetorum as has been
done to cassava in Nigeria, there is therefore, the need for research
on their amino acid contents. In this study, two varieties of the D.
dumetorum (the edible and wild varieties) were analyzed to determine
the levels of essential and non-essential amino acid hence, their nutritional
qualities. The results of this investigation will be useful information
to the nutritionists and chemists who are constantly in search of additional
food sources and products for both human and animal consumptions.
Materials and Methods
The tubers of the cultivated Dioscorea dumetorum were obtained
from specific farmers in Ikot Akpanabia, Nsit
||Crude protein contents of Dioscorea dumetorum varieties
|a, b values with no common superscript are significantly
different (P < 0.05).
Ubium Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria while the wild
variety were obtained from a forest of the same locality. The samples
were representative of the varieties in the area. The tubers were washed,
air dried; the fibrous roots removed and the tuber weighed to obtain fresh
weight. Tubers were processed within four hours of harvest by drying in
an air draught oven at 40oC for 6 hours, ground to fine powder
and stored in air tight containers. Triplicate analyses were done on each
variety that has been bulked together and treated as a single sample.
Chemical analysis: The method of AOAC was adopted for determination
of crude protein and amino acids content of the samples (A.O.A.C. Official
Methods of Analysis, 2000). The samples were hydrolyzed with 6N HCl at
110oC in vacuum for 24 hours. Hydrolysates were analyzed for
amino acids by ion exchange HPLC using ninhydrin post column derivation.
In the determination of sulphur amino acids, the samples were first oxidized
using per formic acid hydrolysis, followed by acid hydrolysis and quantified
by cation exchange chromatography using fluorescence detection. Tryptophan
was determined after alkali hydrolysis using reverse phase chromatographic
technique and the absorbance read with a UV detector. The quality of protein
was evaluated chemically using values of amino acids obtained and those
of FAO reference pattern to determine the chemical score (FAO/WHO, 1973).
Data were presented as mean ≤ SD of triplicate analysis for each sample,
standard student’s t-test was used for statistical analysis and
P<0.05 was considered as significant.
Results and Discussion
The crude protein contents of the wild and edible varieties of Dioscorea
dumetorum are given in Table 1. The wild variety
had a significantly higher protein content (11.37g/100g) than the edible
variety (7.0g/100g). The amino acid composition of the varieties is summarized
in Table 2. The results show that lysine was the most
limiting amino acid followed by cystine and methionine (the sulphur containing
amino acids), in both varieties which agreed with the report of Osagie
(Osagie, 1992) for other yam proteins. The wild variety had the essential
amino acids: tryptophan, phenylalanine, threonine and valine in levels
that compared favourably with the FAO/WHO provisional pattern (FAO/WHO,
1973). Values obtained for amino acids of edible D. dumetorum compared
favourably with the report of Oyenuga (Oyenuga, 1968).
The levels of arginine and histidine, for both varieties especially the
wild (749mg/N arginine: 214mg/N histidine) were higher than levels of
these amino acids in most common foods especially cereals such as maize
(300mg/N and 156mg/N for arginine and histidine respectively) and rice
(450mg/N and 106mg/N for arginine and histidine respectively) which are
used for formulation of weaning formulae where these amino acids are essential
for growth (Ihekeronye and Ngoddy, 1985.). In addition, the lysine level
of the wild variety (388mg/N) is higher than that of rice (200mg/N) and
The chemical scores obtained for edible and wild varieties of D. dumetorum
were 20 and 44, respectively.
||Amino acid composition and chemical scores of Dioscorea
|aEssential amino acids, thus chemical scores.
bValue of methionine was added to cystine to derive chemical
|cValue of Phenylalanine was added to tyrosine
to derive chemical score
These values were lower than the value of 94 reported by Mbome
et al. (Mbome et al., 1995.). However, the results of this
study agreed with that of Mbome et al. on lysine as the most limiting
amino acid (Mbome et al., 1995). Aspartic and glutamic acids are
dispensable amino acids and are found in significant quantities in both
varieties of this yam but the wild D. dumetorum is richer than
the edible variety. This is of importance, since most of the dispensable
amino acids derive their α-amino groups from glutamic acid which,
in turn has α-ketoglutaric acid and ammonia as its precursor. Equally,
aspartic acid is a precursor of such essential amino acid as asparagines,
methionine, threonine and lysine (Stryer, 1997).
The biological significance of the wild D. dumetorum cannot be
over emphasized considering the levels of essential and non-essential
amino acid contents of this yam variety. This is because of the several
important biological functions of amino acids as building blocks for proteins.
In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that the wild D.
dumetorum is richer and is of high protein quality than its cultivated
counterpart. However, both varieties of Dioscorea dumetorum could
be used as alternatives to cereals in human and animal nutrition or in
livestock industries since they compare favourably in their amino acids
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