Breeding for Chlorogenic Acid Content in Eggplant: Interest and Prospects

Chlorogenic acid (5-O-caffeoyl-quinic acid; CGA) is an ester of caffeic acid and (-)-quinic acid with many beneficial properties for human health, such as anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic properties. This has raised an interest for the development of new crop cultivars with increased CGA content. One of the crops with higher CGA content is eggplant (Solanum melongena). There is a wide diversity for CGA content in cultivated eggplant germplasm, which is influenced by the fruit developmental stage, storage conditions, and environmental factors. Therefore, appropriate experimental designs are required for an efficient breeding. Several strategies are proposed for breeding for high CGA content such as intraspecific variation, selection among accessions, development of hybrids and lines with good agronomic and commercial characteristics, or introgression of the high CGA trait in élite lines. Some wild relatives, like S. incanum, present higher CGA contents than those of eggplant. Interspecific hybridization can be used to introgress favorable alleles from the wild species into the genetic background of cultivated eggplant. Fruit flesh browning, as a result of CGA oxidation by polyphenol oxidases, could be a side effect of increasing the CGA content in eggplant. However, experimental results indicate that the relationship between CGA content and fruit flesh browning is low or moderate. Furthermore, selection for low polyphenol oxidase activity might result in reduced fruit flesh browning. Overall, the available data suggest that the development of eggplant cultivars with improved functional quality resulting from a higher CGA content is feasible.

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