Study in the possible use of saline water to irrigate aromatics plants of commercial interest: Effects of salinity on growth, essential oils and phenolic diterpenes composition in rosemary and sage.

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Taieb Tounekti
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Tea, prepared from the leaves of Camellia species, has one of the highest contents of flavonoids among common food and beverage products. Tea consumption has moved beyond its pleasant flavor and cultural significance since a number of health promoting properties have been ascribed to this widespread beverage (e.g., anticancer, antiobesity and hypotensive effects). The major bioactive compounds in tea are catechins (flavan-3-ols), a group of flavonoids that include, among others, (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), and (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). These compounds are also the precursors of theaflavins and thearubigins, oxidation products responsible for the taste and colour of certain tea types such as black tea. The composition of the tea leaf, and thus tea quality, is influenced by many pre-harvest factors such as the genetic make-up of the plant, region of production, horticultural and harvesting practices, and environmental conditions. Once harvested, processing, brewing, and storage conditions influence the phenolic composition and quality of tea infusions as well. In the present review we aim at outlining our current knowledge about means to increase the catechin content of teas, a cornerstone for improving the health-promoting properties of this beverage.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to evaluate how increasing NaCl salinity in the medium can affects the essential oils (EOs) composition and phenolic diterpene content and yield in leaves of Salvia officinalis L. The protective role of such compounds against NaCl stress was also argued with regard to some physiological characteristics of the plant (water and ionic relations as well as the leaf gas exchanges). Materials and methods: Potted plants were exposed to increasing NaCl concentrations (0, 50, 75, and 100 mM) for 4 weeks during July 2012. Replicates from each treatment were harvested after 0, 2, 3, and 4 weeks of adding salt to perform physiological measurements and biochemical analysis. Results: Sage EOs were rich in manool, viridiflorol, camphor, and borneol. Irrigation with a solution containing 100 mM NaCl for 4 weeks increased considerably 1.8-cineole, camphor and β-thujone concentrations, whereas lower concentrations (50 and 75 mM) had no effects. On the contrary, borneol and viridiflorol concentrations decreased significantly under the former treatment while manool and total fatty acid concentrations were not affected. Leaf extracts also contained several diterpenes such as carnosic acid (CA), carnosol, and 12-O-methoxy carnosic acid (MCA). The concentrations and total contents of CA and MCA increased after 3 weeks of irrigation with 75 or 100 mM NaCl. The 50 mM NaCl had no effect on these diterpenes. Our results suggest a protective role for CA against salinity stress. Conclusion: This study may provide ways to manipulate the concentration and yield of some phenolic diterpenes and EOs in sage. In fact, soil salinity may favor a directional production of particular components of interest.
Plant-derived antioxidants are essential in our diet, and antioxidant composition is a key determinant of the quality of plant extracts of interest to the pharmaceutical and food industries. By using carnosic acid as an example of a key antioxidant constituent of rosemary and sage extracts, we discuss the importance of studying non-transgenic approaches to enhancing antioxidant levels in plants and improving the antioxidant composition of plant extracts. In contrast to other terpenoids or phenolic compounds, carnosic acid has only been found in some Labiatae species, such as rosemary and sage. Carnosic acid has medicinal properties; it is a potent antioxidant and protects skin cells against UV-A radiation and cancer. Furthermore, it has been used as a preservative in food and non-food products, displaying important antimicrobial effects. However, the key steps involved in its biosynthesis remain largely unknown, and thus non-transgenic approaches are required to increase its level in plant extracts. Dried rosemary or sage leaves can contain between 0.1% and 7% carnosic acid, depending on the species and variety, but also on plant growth conditions, sample treatment and mode of extract preparation. Furthermore, leaf age, salinity and ionic interactions can also have a significant effect on biosynthesis and therefore have a strong impact on the total antioxidant potential of rosemary and sage extracts. Non-transgenic approaches, used in these or other species, can significantly increase antioxidant levels and therefore provide very significant improvements in the quality of several botanical extracts used in industry, and can be applied as either an alternative or a complement to transgenic approaches.