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Analysis of growth physiology and phytochemical content of Eruca and Diplotaxis cultivars under different light and temperature regimes

Wagstaff, C.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1040 pp. 361-374
temperature, geographical distribution, cultivars, salads, vegetables, stress response, breeding, glucosinolates, genotype, carotenoids, growth habit, abiotic stress, plant response, stress tolerance, antioxidant activity, chlorophyll, antioxidants, Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa
Rocket is a leafy brassicaceous salad crop that encompasses two major genera (Diplotaxis and Eruca) and many different cultivars. Rocket is a rich source of antioxidants and glucosinolates, many of which are produced as secondary products by the plant in response to stress. In this paper we examined the impact of temperature and light stress on several different cultivars of wild and salad rocket. Growth habit of the plants varied in response to stress and with different genotypes, reflecting the wide geographical distribution of the plant and the different environments to which the genera have naturally adapted. Preharvest environmental stress and genotype also had an impact on how well the cultivar was able to resist postharvest senescence, indicating that breeding or selection of senescence-resistant genotypes will be possible in the future. The abundance of key phytonutrients such as carotenoids and glucosinolates are also under genetic control. As genetic resources improve for rocket it will therefore be possible to develop a molecular breeding programme specifically targeted at improving stress resistance and nutritional levels of plant secondary products. Concomitantly, it has been shown in this paper that controlled levels of abiotic stress can potentially improve the levels of chlorophyll, carotenoids and antioxidant activity in this leafy vegetable.