Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Contrasting metabolic fingerprints and seed protein profiles of Cucurbita foetidissima and C. radicans fruits from feral plants sampled in central Mexico.

Abstract

Cucurbita foetidissima and C. radicans are scarcely studied wild pumpkin species that grow in arid and semi-arid areas of Mexico and the United States. This study describes the morphological, proximal composition, metabolic finger-prints and seed protein profiles of C. foetidissima and C. radicans fruits collected in the wild during a one-year period in different locations of central-western Mexico. The results obtained complement the limited information concerning the fruit composition of C. foetidissima and greatly expand information in this respect regarding C. radicans. Morphology and proximal composition of their fruits varied significantly. Different metabolic fingerprints and seed protein profiles were detected between them and also with the chemical composition of domesticated Cucurbita fruits. The neutral lipids in seed, pulp and peels were rich in wax content and in unsaturated compounds, probably carotenoids and tocopherols, in addition to tri-, di- and mono-acylglycerols. The tri- and diacylglycerol profiles of their seed oils were different from commercial seed oils and between each other. They also showed unusual fatty acid compositions. Evidence of a possible alkaloid in the pulp and peel of both species was obtained in addition to several putative cucurbitacins. An abundance of phenolic acids was found in all fruit parts, whereas flavonoids were only detected in the peels. Unlike most cucurbits, globulins were not the main protein fraction in the seeds of C. radicans, whereas the non-structural carbohydrate and raffinose oligosaccharide content in their fruit parts was lower than in other wild cucurbit species. These results emphasize the significantly different chemical composition of these two marginally studied Cucurbita species, which was more discrepant in C. radicans, despite the notion regarding C. foetidissima as an aberrant species with no affinity to any other Cucurbita species.