The aim of present study was to investigate protein, oil and fatty acid composition in 11 maize (Zea mays) genotypes collected from diverse locations in the hills of north western Indian Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir in order to get an idea about the extent of variability in these biochemical traits in the local germplasm. The study revealed significant variation in these quality traits. The protein content among the genotypes ranged from 10.7% to 18.7% while oil content varied between 2.26% and 4.80%. Higher protein content in some of the genotypes especially IC-0617877 (18.7%) and IC-0617880 (17.6%) is noteworthy. The saturated fatty acids of palmitic (C16:0), stearic (C18:0), arachidic (C20:0) and unsaturated fatty acids of oleic (C18:1), linoleic (C18:1) and elaidic (C18:1) were detected and quantified in these genotypes. Considerable variation has been recorded in fatty acid composition; 13.8-33.4% for palmitic acid, 21.5-48.1% for linoleic acid, 19.2-39% for oleic acid, 0.2-2.4% for elaidic acid, 2.5- 8.5% for stearic acid and 0.1-6.6% for arachidic acid. Higher oleic acid content recorded in all the genotypes excepting IC-0617881 is a useful trait. Strikingly, highest oil (4.80%), palmitic acid (33.4%), stearic acid (8.5%) and arachidic acid (6.6%) contents have been recorded in this remarkably cold tolerant genotype with reddish yellow seeds containing moderate protein content of 13.8 %. The appreciable variation in these quality traits could be exploited in breeding programmes for improvement of this crop and opening up new opportunities for its food and industrial end uses.
Fatty acids, Genotypes, Oil content, Protein content, Zea mays L.
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