Rapid Estimation of Phenolic Content in Colored Maize by NearInfrared Reflectance Spectroscopy and Its Use in Breeding Academic Article uri icon


  • Crop Science Society of America. All rights reserved. Colored maize (Zea mays L.; blue, red, purplemorado) is of interest for perceived health benefits of anthocyanins and other antioxidant polyphenols as well as aesthetics but suffers from low yield with few available hybrids. Grain color in maize is simply inherited, but the range of phenolic antioxidants within color classes can be large. Phenolic antioxidants can be estimated using extractable phenol content (EPC) analysis, and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can identify individual compounds. However, both methods are expensive and slow and require destruction of the sample through grinding, which hinders screening in a breeding program. Fourier-transformed near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (FT-NIRS) is an inexpensive, rapid, and nondestructive technique useful for quantifying various compounds in grain but has not been used for selecting improved EPC profiles in maize breeding. Using two different sample sets we found that whole kernel (performance index [PI] = 83.8) samples were nearly as predictive as ground kernel samples (PI = 85.7) for EPC. Importantly, FT- NIRS predicted two related breeding lines with 1.4- to 1.7-fold greater EPC than the next highest sample (all morado), which were confirmed by EPC and HPLC. This study demonstrated that FT-NIRS can be easily integrated into a breeding program to select improved EPC profiles beyond visual color selection. This will allow the breeding of a core improved set of lines and hybrids to be validated in food processing and feeding trials.

published proceedings

  • Crop Science

altmetric score

  • 2.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Meng, Q., Murray, S. C., Mahan, A., Collison, A., Yang, L., & Awika, J.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Meng, Qingchang||Murray, Seth C||Mahan, Adam||Collison, Amy||Yang, Liyi||Awika, Joseph

publication date

  • September 2015