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Nutritional evaluation of wild and cultivated species of cowpea
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Data are given on seed characteristics and nutritive value for 6 accessions of 4 wild Vigna taxa (V. vexillata, V. oblongifolia, V. gracilis and V. unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana) and 27 cultivated V. unguiculata varieties. The 100-seed weight ranged from 2 to 6 g among wild and from 6 to 24 g in cultivated accessions. Protein content was significantly lower in cultivated than in wild accessions (22.3-25.5% vs. 23.4-28.2%) while the reverse was true for in vitro protein digestibility (79.5-82.5% vs. 75.2-80.2%). Wild accessions had higher contents of proteinase (trypsin and chymotrypsin) inhibitors than cultivated accessions, but showed wide variation for the trait. Tannins were scarcely present in most cultivated accessions but were high in the wild samples, particularly in one line of V. vexillata and V. oblongifolia. Variation for amino acids was low, the highest variability being for methionine and cystine. It was considered that the overall variability would be of use for cowpea breeding to improve the nutritional quality of seeds.