Main content area

Silymarin content and antioxidant activity of seeds of wild Silybum marianum populations growing in Greece

Arampatzis, Dimitrios A., Karkanis, Anestis C., Tsiropoulos, Nikolaos G.
Annals of applied biology 2019 v.174 no.1 pp. 61-73
Silybum marianum, antioxidant activity, breeding programs, environmental factors, gene pool, genotype, seeds, silymarin, taxifolin, Greece
Selection of milk thistle (Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.) genotypes for commercial cultivation depends on wild population resources, rather than on selection of varieties. The evaluation of these populations could contribute to the development of new milk thistle varieties with desirable traits such as high silymarin content. Therefore, we conducted a study to evaluate 30 wild populations occurring naturally in Greece, based on seed silymarin content. Seeds were collected from populations growing in localities presenting different environmental conditions. In addition, we also investigated the diversity in levels of silymarin constituents, as well as observed correlations among them. Significant differences in silymarin content were recorded among the populations studied, with values ranging from 2.31 to 7.71% (avg. 3.31%), as well as in flavonolignan and taxifolin content. The mean taxifolin content was 4.96 mg/g, while the highest silybin A + silybin B content (21.77–31.39 mg/g of dry weight (dw)) was recorded in seeds from the “Spata” population originating from central Greece. Our results showed noticeable levels of diversity in silymarin content and composition in native milk thistle populations, indicating that a valuable gene pool for exploitation in milk thistle breeding programmes exists in Greece.