Reduced nitrogen availability during growth improves quality in red oak lettuce leaves by minimizing nitrate content, and increasing antioxidant capacity and leaf mineral content

DOI: 10.4236/as.2011.24061   PDF   HTML     6,123 Downloads   11,423 Views   Citations


Overuse of N in lettuce production can lead to environmental problems caused by leaching and the accumulation of harmful nitrates in edible tissues. This study investigated the effect of applied nitrogen (N) concentrations between 40 and 2400 mg·L–1 on growth, nitrate accumulation, mineral leaf content, and antioxidant capacity in Oak Leaf lettuce cv. “Shiraz” grown under hydroponic conditions in Australia. Yield (g FW) increased with nitrogen (N) application rate up to 1200 mg·L–1, as did leaf N content, while C:N declined. Nitrogen Utilization Efficiency (NUtE) increased rapidly from 40 to 75 mg·L–1 applied N, leveling at 150 mg·L–1 with no subsequent effect of N concentrations between 400 and 2400 mg·L–1. Nitrate content rose significantly with increased N, particularly at 1200 and 2400 mg·L–1. Leaf total plant phenolic content (TPP) and antioxidant capacity (measured by ferric reducing antioxidant power—FRAP) were both maximal at 75 and 400 mg·L–1 applied N, while highest oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) values were found in leaves supplied with low N (40 to 400 mg·L–1). Applied N as calcium nitrate also significantly affected leaf mineral content as B, Mg, Mn, and Zn significantly decreased with increasing N. These results indicate that N applications of 1200 mg·L–1 or higher can result in reduced antioxidant capacity and mineral content in lettuce leaves.

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Stefanelli, D. , Winkler, S. and Jones, R. (2011) Reduced nitrogen availability during growth improves quality in red oak lettuce leaves by minimizing nitrate content, and increasing antioxidant capacity and leaf mineral content. Agricultural Sciences, 2, 477-486. doi: 10.4236/as.2011.24061.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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