Research Note

Research Note: Simplified Qualitative Method for Canavanine in Seeds and Sprouts

Kathleen T. Rajkowskia

Journal of Food Protection: Vol. 67, No. 1, pp. 212-214.

aU.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038-8598, USA



The major stored nitrogen compound in alfalfa seeds is canavanine. To identify this nonprotein amino acid from seed extract and sprout water, a qualitative micro-thin-layer chromatography method was developed. Successful separation and identification was achieved using microsilica plates, a 70:30 ethyl alcohol-water solvent system, and 1% ammonium disodium pentacyanoammineferrate II for color development. This quick method was used to identify canavanine (sensitivity 50 ug) from irradiated and nonirradiated alfalfa and clover seed extracts and alfalfa sprout water. Broccoli and radish seed extracts were negative for canavanine. This simple method is useful to track the release and decrease of canavanine in the sprout water.