Exploring variation in proanthocyanidin composition and content of sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia). J. Sci. Food Agric. 2013, 93, 2102-2109.

BACKGROUND: To maximise the potential benefits to ruminants from sainfoin, plant breeding should focus on developing varieties with predictable condensed tannin (CT) profiles. Little is known about whether and to what extent accession and environment influence sainfoin CT structures. We sought to investigate the likely extent of accession and environment effects on CT characteristics of sainfoin. Four single-flowering (Communis) accessions and two multiple-flowering (Bifera) accessions, grown at three sites and collected at two harvest times were used. Sainfoin CTswere characterised by thiolytic degradation and by high-performance liquid chromatography–gel permeation chromatography (HPLC-GPC). Also, CT concentration measured earlier by the HCl–butanol method was compared with that from thiolysis.

RESULTS: Thiolysis revealed that accession and harvest influenced most CT structural attributes. Bifera CTs eluted as single peaks (Mp <6220 Da) in HPLC-GPC across the two harvests and two sites, whereas Communis generated two to three CT peaks, which included a peak (Mp ≤9066 Da) in the second harvest. A discrepancy was observed in CT concentrations measured by the two methods.

CONCLUSION: CTs from Bifera accessions had more stable and predictable characteristics across harvests and sites and this could be of interest when breeding sainfoin.