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J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Dec 8;58(23):12399-406. doi: 10.1021/jf103415q. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Fatty acids, essential oil, and phenolics modifications of black cumin fruit under NaCl stress conditions.

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  • 1Laboratoire des Substances Bioactives Centre de Biotechnologie à la Technopole de Borj-Cédria (CBBC), BP 901, Hammam-Lif, Tunisia.


This research evaluated the effect of saline conditions on fruit yield, fatty acids, and essential oils compositions and phenolics content of black cumin (Nigella sativa). This plant is one of the most commonly found aromatics in the Mediterranean kitchen. Increasing NaCl levels to 60 mM decreased significantly the fruits yield by 58% and the total fatty acids amount by 35%. Fatty acids composition analysis indicated that linoleic acid was the major fatty acid (58.09%) followed by oleic (19.21%) and palmitic (14.77%) acids. Salinity enhanced the linoleic acid percentage but did not affect the unsaturation degree of the fatty acids pool and thus the oil quality. The essential oil yield was 0.39% based on the dry weight and increased to 0.53, 0.56, and 0.72% at 20, 40, and 60 mM NaCl. Salinity results on the modification of the essential oil chemotype from p-cymene in controls to γ-terpinene/p-cymene in salt-stressed plants. The amounts of total phenolics were lower in the treated plants. Salinity decreased mainly the amount of the major class, benzoics acids, by 24, 29, and 44% at 20, 40, and 60 mM NaCl. The results suggest that salt treatment may regulate bioactive compounds production in black cumin fruits, influencing their nutritional and industrial values.

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