The oil palm mesocarp contains an endogenous lipase which is strongly activated at low temperature. Lipase activity is thus very conveniently assayed by prior exposure of the fruits to low temperature. More than 100 oil palm samples from the germplasm collection of the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (now known as the Malaysian Palm Oil Board) were screened for nonesterified fatty acid activity using both the lowtemperature activation assay and a radioactivity assay. The results showed good correlation between assay procedures. The different samples had a very wide range of lipase activity. Elaeis oleifera samples had significantly lower lipase activity compared with E. guineensis (var. tenera) samples. Even within E. guineensis (var. tenera), there was a wide range of activity. The results confirmed that lipase activity is genotype-dependent. Selection for lipase genotypes is thus possible and this will have obvious commercial value.

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