Many plants used as functional foods or for medicinal purposes have been criticized for their inconsistent physiological effects. Variation in genotype and environmental conditions under which plants are produced can contribute to this inconsistency in biochemical composition. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) is a medicinal plant that not only can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels in animals, but also can be used as a forage crop for livestock feed. Seed content for the bioactive compounds diosgenin, galactomannan and 4-hydroxyisoleucine was characterized for ten fenugreek genotypes under rainfed and irrigated conditions. High and low seed yielding genotype/environment combinations were identified that possessed distinct biochemical and seed production traits. In general high seed yielding genotype/environment combinations exhibited a more stable biochemical composition and consisted largely of irrigated fenugreek. This research indicates that comprehensive biochemical analysis of plant products would facilitate the development of more reliable produce for use by the functional food/medicinal plant industry.
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