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Proline and light as quality enhancers of rocket (Eruca sativa Miller) grown under saline conditions

Barbieri, Giancarlo, Bottino, Antonella, Di Stasio, Emilio, Vallone, Simona, Maggio, Albino
Scientia horticulturae 2011 v.128 no.4 pp. 393-400
Eruca sativa, antioxidant activity, carotenoids, chlorophyll, dry matter accumulation, foliar application, leaves, light quality, nitrates, nitrites, nutritive value, photoperiod, plant response, proline, salinity, salt stress, sodium chloride, weight loss
Stress conditions experienced during growth may affect plant responses during post-harvest storage and eventually determine the overall quality of commercial products. In this context, we hypothesized that foliar applications of proline during the growth cycle and light exposure during post-harvest storage could be two important modulators of yield and quality parameters of rocket plants exposed to NaCl stress. Dry matter percentage increased upon NaCl treatment. However, fresh weight loss during storage did not change over time as a consequence of salt stress. High salinity (100mM NaCl) moderately reduced both leaf nitrate (14%) and nitrite (3%) contents. Lipophilic (LAC) and hydrophilic (HAC) antioxidant activities also decreased by 10% at the highest salinization (average of two growth cycles). In contrast, during storage, LAC decreased whereas HAC increased. Proline applications reduced the leaf nitrate content during storage by 16%, increased carotenoids and chlorophyll contents in salinized plants and also increased the ascorbate leaf concentration in both salinized and non-salinzed plants. Light storage enhanced fresh weight loss in contrast to dark storage. However the exposure to light reduced leaf nitrate levels by 7% (average of two growth cycles) and contributed to maintain high leaf ascorbate concentrations over time. The combined control of plant physiological responses to environmental stressors and post-harvest storage parameters may affect the nutritional profile of fresh rocket and consequently should be considered to define standard production protocols to improve the nutritional qualities of commercial produce.