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Boron deficiency and concentrations and composition of phenolic compounds in Olea europaea leaves: a combined growth chamber and field study

Liakopoulos, G.., Karabourniotis, G.
Tree physiology 2005 v.25 no.3 pp. 307-315
Olea europaea, olives, leaves, trichomes, boron, metabolism, nutrient deficiencies, stress tolerance, chemical constituents of plants, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, quantitative analysis, field experimentation, growth chambers
Boron deficiency is the most frequent micronutrient disorder in olive (Olea spp.) orchards. We tested the hypothesis that plant boron status affects phenolic metabolism, which, in turn, influences several ecophysiological traits of olive (Olea europaea L.) trees, by studying the effects of boron deficiency on leaf phenolic compounds of olive in a growth chamber experiment (CE) and a field experiment (FE). In the CE, a semi-hydroponic system was used to control nutrient supply. Plants received complete nutrient solution containing either 23 (control) or 0 micromolar H3BO3 (boron-deficient treatment). In the FE, boron-deficient trees were chosen based on visible boron-deficiency symptoms and analysis of their leaf boron concentration. Boron deficiency caused significant accumulation of phenolic compounds in leaves of CE plants (1.7 to 5.8 times more, depending on leaf age), but not in leaves of FE plants. However, in both experiments, the concentration of an unidentified phenolic compound, with a UV-spectrum resembling that of caffeic acid, increased in response to boron deficiency (by a factor of 40 to 184 in the CE and by a factor of three in the FE). Regression analysis showed that the concentration of this compound was negatively correlated to leaf boron concentration, irrespective of growth conditions and treatment. We conclude that, under field conditions, boron deficiency may not be the only factor determining the concentration of total phenolics, but it may be responsible for the accumulation of a distinct phenolic metabolite in olive leaves.