Inter-cultivar and temporal variation of phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity and carbohydrate composition of pecan (Carya illlinoinensis) kernels grown in Tunisia

  • Intidhar BoualiEmail author
  • Athanassios Tsafouros
  • Efstathios Ntanos
  • Ali Albouchi
  • Sadok Boukhchina
  • Peter A. Roussos
Research Report


This research aimed to study the influence of crop year and cultivar on the composition of phytochemicals and carbohydrates of pecan (Carya illinoinensis) kernels. Three pecan cultivars, Mahan, Moore and Burkett, grown at the same location, were analyzed for their total phenols, total flavonoids, total flavanols, total condensed tannin, total o-diphenols, HPLC phenolic profile, antioxidant activity, and carbohydrate composition over two harvest years. Five individual phenolic compounds were identified and quantified in pecan kernels: gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, an ellagic acid derivative and ellagic acid. Mahan exhibited the highest content of total phenolics, flavonoids, flavanols and condensed tannins, as well as the highest antioxidant activity among the cultivars. Significant positive correlations were found between antioxidant activity and the concentration of phenolic compound in the kernels. Based on principal component analysis performed using all the measured variables, Mahan and Burkett cultivars were clearly distinguished, while Moore presented similar characteristics to both of them. The present findings showed that phytochemicals and carbohydrates varied significantly among the cultivars and harvest years. As there is little information on the phytochemical profile of pecan nuts, the information provided here will be valuable for a better understanding of their potential contribution to health promotion and disease prevention.


Antioxidant activity Cultivar Harvest year Pecan nut kernel Phytochemicals Sugars 



We gratefully thank the National Institute of Meteorology for providing information about the region of Mateur.

Author’s contribution

IB: carried out the experiments, interpreted the results and worked on the manuscript. AT and EN: contributed in performing experiments. AA: provided the pecan nuts tested in our study and provided all the information regarding pecans. SB: conceived the original idea. PAR: participate in revising the article critically for important intellectual content, gave final approval of the version to be submitted and any revised version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Korean Society for Horticultural Science 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Intidhar Bouali
    • 1
    Email author
  • Athanassios Tsafouros
    • 2
  • Efstathios Ntanos
    • 2
  • Ali Albouchi
    • 3
  • Sadok Boukhchina
    • 1
  • Peter A. Roussos
    • 2
  1. 1.Unité de Biochimie des Lipides et des protéines, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences de TunisUniversité Tunis El-ManarTunisTunisia
  2. 2.Laboratory of Pomology, Department of Crop ScienceAgricultural University of AthensAthensGreece
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’Ecologie ForestièreInstitut Nationale des recherches en Génie Rural, Eaux et ForêtsAriana, TunisTunisia

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