Morphological and chemical characteristics of fruits and seeds of two cultivars of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller from northern Morocco
Keywords:fertilized; aborted; germination; fat; protein
Fruits of two cultivars of Opuntia ficus-indica (the “Hajria” and “Dellahia” cultivars) growing in the Tetouan and Al-Hoceima provinces of northern Morocco were harvested at the same ripening stage. The chemical properties (total lipids, proteins, total sugars, moisture, and dry matter) of the peel and seeds were determined and the morphological characteristics (whole fruit weight, pulp weight, peel weight, and the number and weight of fertilized and aborted seeds) of the fruits and their seeds from both cultivars were compared. Surface-sterilized seeds were separated into six groups according to their length and germinated on Murashige and Skoog basal culture medium. Seed viability, by analyzing the correlation between (1) germination rate and seed length, and (2) germination rate and seed weight was determined. Results showed that the province or cultivar factor had significant effects on the morphological characteristics of fruits and seeds. Fruit and pulp weights were positively correlated with the seed number. In addition, a marked difference in the sugar content of the peel was observed (57.29% in the ‘‘Dellahia’’ cultivar compared to 36.66% in the “Hajria” cultivar). The seeds of the “Dellahia” cultivar contained 10.41% fat and 8.12% protein, whereas the seeds of “Hajria” contained 12.27% fat and 8.67% protein. Seed viability was assured from a length of 3.5 mm in both cultivars. The seed germination rate correlated positively with increased length and weight; however, this rate was significantly different between the two cultivars.