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J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Jan 30;96(2):392-403. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7102. Epub 2015 Feb 19.

Health-promoting compounds of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica) plants as affected by nitrogen fertilisation in projected future climatic change environments.

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Laboratoire Aridoculture et Cultures Oasiennes, Institut des Régions Arides, Route de Djerba Km 22.5, 4119, Médenine, Tunisia.
Department of Plant Nutrition, Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC), Campus Universitario de Espinardo, Ap. de Correos 164, E-30100, Murcia, Spain.
Department of Food Science and Technology, Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC), Campus Universitario de Espinardo, Ap. de Correos 164, E-30100, Murcia, Spain.



The complex interactions between CO2 increase and salinity were investigated in relation to decreased N supply, in order to determine the nutritional quality of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica) plants under these conditions. Three different decreased N fertilisation regimes (NO3(-)/NH4(+) ratios of 100:0, 50:50 and 0:100 respectively) were combined with ambient (380 ppm) and elevated (800 ppm) [CO2 ] under non-saline (0 mmol L(-1) NaCl) and saline (80 mmol L(-1) NaCl) conditions. Nutrients (minerals, soluble protein and total amino acids) and natural antioxidants (glucosinolates, phenolic acids, flavonoids and vitamin C) were determined.


In NH4(+) -fed broccoli plants, a marked growth reduction was shown and a redistribution of amino acids to cope with NH4(+) toxicity resulted in higher levels of indolic glucosinolate and total phenolic compounds. However, the positive effect of the higher [CO2] - ameliorating adverse effects of salinity--was only observed when N was supplied as NO3(-). Under reduced N fertilisation, the total glucosinolates were increased by a decreased NO3(-)/NH4 (+) ratio and elevated [CO2] but were unaffected by salinity.


Under future climatic challenges, such as increased salinity and elevated [CO2], a clear genotypic dependence of S metabolism was observed in broccoli plants. In addition, an influence of the form in which N was supplied on plant nutritional quality was observed; a combined NO3(-)/NH4(+) (50:50) supply allowed broccoli plants not only to deal with NH4(+) toxicity but also to modify their glucosinolate content and profile. Thus, for different modes of N fertilisation, the interaction with climatic factors must be considered in the search for an optimal balance between yield and nutritional quality.


Brassica oleracea; amino acids; climate change; glucosinolates; phenolic compounds; vitamin C

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