To gain insights on the effects of color type, cultivation history, and growing site on the composition alterations of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walpers) hypocotyls, NMR profiling combined with chemometric analysis was applied to investigate the metabolite variability in different maca accessions. Maca hypocotyls with different colors (yellow, pink, violet, and lead-colored) cultivated at different geographic sites and different areas were examined for differences in metabolite expression. Differentiations of the maca accessions grown under the different cultivation conditions were determined by principle component analyses (PCAs) which were performed on the datasets derived from their ¹H NMR spectra. A total of 16 metabolites were identified by NMR analysis, and the changes in metabolite levels in relation to the color types and growing conditions of maca hypocotyls were evaluated using univariate statistical analysis. In addition, the changes of the correlation pattern among the metabolites identified in the maca accessions planted at the two different sites were examined. The results from both multivariate and univariate analysis indicated that the planting site was the major determining factor with regards to metabolite variations in maca hypocotyls, while the color of maca accession seems to be of minor importance in this respect.
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