Fourteen purple-black American elderberry accessions (Sambucus canadensis L.) obtained from various sites in midwestern USA and then grown at a single Ohio production site in USA were analyzed for their total phenolic (TP) and total monomeric anthocyanin (TMA) contents and for their antioxidant capacity by the ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and DPPH radical scavenging assays. Total phenolic and anthocyanin contents were measured using the Folin-Ciocalteu reagent and the pH differential methods, respectively. Overall, the phytonutrient contents and antioxidant capacity of our elderberry accessions were similar to those typically reported for black raspberries, blackberries and other dark-fleshed small fruits. Variability among accessions was greatest for TMA content (CV 37.5%); individuals ranged nearly threefold from 1308 to 4004 μg cy3-GE/g on a fresh weight basis. Variation among accessions was also evident for TP, FRAP and DPPH values (CV 14.4, 21.7 and 26.8%, respectively). TP and TMA values were very highly correlated (r = 0.93), although individuals differed in the estimated proportion of total phenolics attributable to anthocyanins. Both TP and TMA also highly correlated to antioxidant capacity values (r = 0.70-0.85). Within this limited study of 14 accessions, variability for phytonutrient content and antioxidant capacity suggested the employment of wild germplasm within an elderberry improvement program to incorporate an array of superior horticultural, post-harvest or processing traits into new or existing cultivars with superior phytonutrient profiles.
Keywords: DPPH; ferric reducing antioxidant power; phytonutrient; radical scavenging assay; small fruits.