Chemical composition and bioactive properties of Cichorium spinosum L. in relation to nitrate/ammonium nitrogen ratio

Spyridon A. Petropoulos, Ângela Fernandes, Ricardo C. Calhelha, Francesco Di Gioia, Panagiota Kolovou, Lillian Barros, Isabel C.F.R. Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Nitrogenous fertilizers may affect the yield and quality of leafy vegetables via the application rate and nitrogen form. In the present study, the effect of the nitrate:ammonium nitrogen ratio in the nutrient solution on the chemical composition and bioactive properties of Cichorium spinosum leaves was evaluated. For this purpose, C. spinosum plants were fertigated with nutrient solution containing different ratios of nitrate: ammonium nitrogen: (i) 100:0 NO3-N:NH4-N; (ii) 75:25 NO3-N:NH4-N; (iii) 50:50 NO3-N:NH4-N; (iv) 25:75 NO3-N:NH4-N; and (v) 0:100 NO3-N:NH4-N of total nitrogen; as well as (vi) 100% ureic nitrogen. RESULTS: The only detected tocopherol isoforms were α- and δ-tocopherol, which were positively affected by nitrate nitrogen (100:0 NO3-N:NH4-N). Similar results were observed for individual and total organic acids. The main detected sugars were fructose, glucose and sucrose, with a varied effect of nutrient solution composition on their content, whereas total sugar concentration was positively affected by a balanced or a slightly increased proportion of NH4-N (50:50 and 25:75 NO3-N:NH4-N). The fatty acids profile was beneficially affected by the highest NH4-N ratio (0:100 NO3-N:NH4-N), whereas higher amounts of NO3 than NH4 + nitrogen (75:25 NO3-N:NH4-N) resulted in a higher content of total phenolic compounds. Finally, no cytotoxic effects were observed against non-tumor (PLP2, HeLa) and tumor (HepG2, MCF-7, NCI-H460) cell lines for any of the studied nutrient solutions. CONCLUSION: The modulation of NO3-N:NH4-N ratio in the nutrient solution supplied to C. spinosum may enhance the content of desirable health-promoting compounds and reduce the content of antinutrients, thus increasing the overall quality of the final product without compromising yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6741-6750
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the science of food and agriculture
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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