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J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Mar;49(3):1331-5.

Light reflected from colored mulches affects aroma and phenol content of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) leaves.

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Coastal Plains Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2611 West Lucas Street, Florence, SC 29501-1242, USA.


Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is an herb the leaves of which are used to add a distinct aroma and flavor to food. It was hypothesized that the size and chemical composition of sun-grown basil leaves could be influenced by the color of light reflected from the soil surface and by the action of the reflected light through the natural growth regulatory system within the growing plants. Leaf morphology, aroma compounds, and soluble phenolics were compared in basil that had been grown over six colors of polyethylene row covers. Altering the ratios of blue, red, and far-red light reflected to growing plants influenced both leaf morphology and chemistry. Leaves developing over red surfaces had greater area, moisture percentage (succulence), and fresh weight than those developing over black surfaces. Basil grown over yellow and green surfaces produced significantly higher concentrations of aroma compounds than did basil grown over white and blue covers. Leaves grown over yellow and green mulches also contained significantly higher concentrations of phenolics than those grown over the other colors. Clearly, the wavelengths (color) of light reflected to growing basil plants affected leaf size, aroma, and concentrations of soluble phenolics, some of which are antioxidants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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