Growing demand for horticultural products of accentuated sensory, nutritional, and functional quality traits has been driven by the turn observed in affluent societies toward a healthy and sustainable lifestyle relying principally on plant-based food. Growing plants under protected cultivation facilitates more precise and efficient modulation of the plant microenvironment, which is essential for improving vegetable quality.
Among the environmental parameters that have been researched for optimization over the past, air relative humidity has always been in the background and it is still unclear if and how it can be modulated to improve plants’ quality. In this respect, two differentially pigmented (green and red) Salanova cultivars (Lactuca sativa L. var. capitata) were grown under two different Vapor Pressure Deficits (VPDs; 0.69 and 1.76 kPa) in a controlled environment chamber in order to appraise possible changes in mineral and phytochemical composition and in antioxidant capacity. Growth and morpho-physiological parameters were also analyzed to better understand lettuce development and acclimation mechanisms under these two VPD regimes.
Results showed that even though Salanova plants grown at low VPD (0.69 kPa) increased their biomass, area, number of leaves and enhanced Fv/Fm ratio, plants at high VPD increased the levels of phytochemicals, especially in the red cultivar. Based on these results, we have discussed the role of high VPD facilitated by controlled environment agriculture as a mild stress aimed to enhance the quality of leafy greens.
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Amitrano, Chiara & Rouphael, Youssef & De Pascale, Stefania & Micco, Veronica. (2021). Modulating Vapor Pressure Deficit in the Plant Micro-Environment May Enhance the Bioactive Value of Lettuce. Horticulturae. 7. 1-15. 10.3390/horticulturae7020032.