Salinity is a major concern in several ecosystems and has a significant impact on global agriculture. To increase the sustainability of horticultural food systems, better management and usage of saline water and soils need to be supported by knowledge of the crop-specific responses to tolerable levels of salinity. The aim of this work was to study the effects of mild salinity on morphological growth and development, leaf color, mineral composition, antioxidant activities,and phenolic profile of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.).
Plants grew in hydroponics and were exposed to three nutrient solutions (NSs) differing in the NaCl concentration (either 0, 20, or 40 mM). Inhibitory effects on leaf area, fresh yield, and shoot biomass were evident starting from the lowest NaCl concentration, and they became more severe and wide-ranging at 40 mM, also affecting height and root-to-shoot ratio. Salinity increased the nutritional quality in terms of antioxidant activity and polyphenols in leaves, with a reduction in macroelements at 40 mM NaCl. Moreover, the two mild NaCl concentrations specifically modified the concentration of various phenolic acids in leaves.
Overall, the use of a slightly saline (20 mM) NS could be tolerated by basil in hydroponics, strongly ameliorating the nutritional profile in the face of relative yield loss. Considering the significantly higher accumulation of bioactive compounds, our work implies that the use of low-salinity water can sustainably increase the nutritional value and the health-promoting features of basil leaves.
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Corrado, Giandomenico & Vitaglione, Paola & Chiaiese, Pasquale & Rouphael, Youssef. (2021). Unraveling the Modulation of Controlled Salinity Stress on Morphometric Traits, Mineral Profile, and Bioactive Metabolome Equilibrium in Hydroponic Basil. Horticulturae. 7. 1-14. 10.3390/horticulturae7090273.