Field experiments were carried out at the Regional Centre of Experimentation in Organic agriculture at Auch (near Toulouse, South west of France). Due to the high potential applications for its oil components such as fatty acids and phytosterols, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius
L.) is considered as an emerging crop. Safflower plants, as many other oil crops, are submitted to environmental stresses that modify seed composition. Nevertheless, few reports are available about the effects of environmental conditions on fatty acid and phytosterol compositions in safflower. Different rainfall supplies can be managed by delaying the sowing dates. In this study, fatty acid and phytosterol contents have been evaluated in safflower seeds cultivated at two sowing dates (conventional and late) that led to a differential of rainfall during seed development. At harvest, seeds were used for oil extraction. Fatty acid composition was performed by using GC-FID. A set of seeds was dehulled to separate the almond (embryo) and hull to release the extraction and measurement of sterol contents in the two compartments by GC-FID. A delay of sowing increased the content of all sterol categories but induced a significant decrease in fatty acids. The ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids increased under a delaying sowing. The repartition of phytosterols was ¾ and ¼ of total sterols in the embryo and the hull, respectively. These results could make the use of hull (considered as waste) possible, help breeders to improve safflower oil composition and develop new industrial applications.
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