Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 451–458 | Cite as

Water Retention Capacity of Polysaccharides from Prickly Pear Nopals of Opuntia Ficus Indica and Opuntia Litoralis: Physical–Chemical Approach

Original Paper


Polysaccharides were isolated from nopals mucilage pulp and peel of Opuntia Ficus Indica (OFI) and Opuntia litoralis (OL) by aqueous extraction and purified by ultrafiltration. Studying the glycosyl residue composition, these polysaccharides were assumed to be rhamnogalacturonan I (RG-I). The macromolecular features of these compounds have been characterized by SEC/MALLS and by low shear viscosimetry. In the present work, we have undertaken a comparative study about different polysaccharides resulting from OFI and OL growing in different area. This comparison is to see the influence of the geographical area in which these two plants push on the mechanism of retention of water by the different polysaccharides extract. The polysaccharides resulting from the nopal peels of the two plants are highly methylated (>70%), thus they are much more hydrophobic especially for peels of OFI growing in the desert area than those resulting from pulps. Consequently, they probably prevent the evaporation of water in nopals by increasing their water retention capacity. Prickly pear nopals of OFI and OL contain a significant amount of water (>80%), carbohydrates (75% compared to the soluble matter), proteins (8% compared to the soluble matter) and salt (17% compared to the soluble matter). Thus, they represent an important source of water and alimentation especially in the arid and semi-arid areas.


Water retention Polysaccharides Opuntia Ficus Indica Opuntia Litoralis 



The research reported in this paper was supported by French–Tunisian cooperation (CNRS/DGRST project 05/R12-08). The authors thank Dr C. Morvan for helpful for sugar analysis.


  1. 1.
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report (Bruxelles, April 2007)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Firew T, Kijora C, Peters KJ (2007) Small Rumin Res 72:157–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mizrahi Y, Nerd A, Nobel PS (1997) Hortic Rev 18:291–321Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Singh G, Felker P (1998) Indian Farm, 26–31Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Barbera G, Inglese P, Pimienta EB (1995) Cultivation and uses of cactus pear. Agro-ecology ed, Rome, pp 215Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Pimienta-Barrios E (1994) J Arid Environ 28:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Trachtenberg S, Mayer AM (1981) Phytochemistry 20:2665–2668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sawaya WN, Khatachadourian HA, Safi WM, Al-Muhamad HM (1983) Food Technol 181:183–193Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Uschoa AF, Souza PAS, Zarate RML, Gomes-Filho E, Campos FAP (1998) J Med Biol Res 31:757–763Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Forni E, Polesello A, Montefiori D, Maestrelli A (1992) J Chromatog 593:177–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Forni E, Penci M, Polesello A (1994) Carbohydr Polym 23:231–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Majdoub H, Roudesli MS, Picton L, Le Cerf D, Muller G, Grisel M (2001) Carbohydr Polym 46:69–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Majdoub H, Roudesli MS, Deratani A (2001) Polym Int 50:552–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Habibi Y, Mahrouz M, Vignon MR (2002) Carbohydr Res 337:1593–1598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Habibi Y, Mahrouz M, Vignon MR (2005) Carbohydr Polym 60:319–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Habibi Y, Mahrouz M, Marais MF, Vignon MR (2004) Carbohydr Res 339:1201–1205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sepúlveda E, Sáenz C, Aliaga E, Aceituno C (2007) J Arid Environ 68:534–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Dubois M, Gilles KA, Hamilton JK, Rebers PA, Smith F (1956) Anal Chem 28:350–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Montreuil J, Spik G, Chosson A, Segard E, Scheppler N (1963) J Pharm Bel 18:529–546Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    M’sakni NH, Majdoub H, Roudesli MS, Picton L, Le Cerf D, Rihouey C, Morvan C (2006) Eur Polym J 42:786–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Goubet F, Bourlard T, Girault R, Alexandre C, Vandevelde MC, Morvan C (1995) Carbohydr Polym 27:221–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Monsoor M, Kalapathy A, Proctor U (2001) J Agric Food Chem 49:2756–2760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kravtchenko TP, Berth G, Voragen AGI, Pilnik W (1992) Carbohydr Polym 18:253–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Simon S, Le Cerf D, Picton L, Muller G (2002) Colloid Surf A 203:77–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Beltran O, Leon De Pinto G, Martinez M, Picton L, Cozic C, Le Cerf D, Muller G (2005) Carbohydr Polym 62:239–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Beltran O, Leon De Pinto G, Rincon F, Picton L, Cozic C, Le Cerf D, Muller G (2008) Carbohydr Polym 72:88–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Joly C, Le Cerf D, Chappey C, Langevin D, Muller G (1997) Polym Int 44:497–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Utraki L, Simha R (1963) J Polym Sci A 1:1089–1095Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kravtchenko T, Voragen A, Pilnik W (1992) Carbohydr Polym 18:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Joye D, Luzio G (2000) Carbohydr Polym 43:337–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    O’neill M, Albersheim P, Darvill A (1990) In Dey PM, Harborne JB (eds) Methods in plant biochemistry, vol 2. Academic Press, London, pp 415Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Koubala BB, Kansci G, Mbome LI, Crépeau MJ, Thibault JF, Ralet MC (2008) Food Hydrocoll 28:1345–1351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Happi ET, Robert C, Ronkart S, Wathelet B, Paquot M (2008) Bioresour Technol 99:4346–4351CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Majdoub
    • 1
    • 3
  • L. Picton
    • 2
  • D. Le Cerf
    • 2
  • S. Roudesli
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire Polymères, Biopolymères et Matériaux OrganiquesFaculté des Sciences de MonastirMonastirTunisia
  2. 2.Université de Rouen, FRE 3101 & FR 3038 CNRS Laboratoire Polymères, Biopolymères, SurfacesMont-Saint-Aignan CedexFrance
  3. 3.Département de ChimieFaculté des Sciences de Monastir, Boulevard de l’environnementMonastirTunisia

Personalised recommendations