Table_4_Metabolomic Evaluation of the Quality of Leaf Lettuce Grown in Practical Plant Factory to Capture Metabolite Signature.XLSX

Vegetables produce metabolites that affect their taste and nutritional value and compounds that contribute to human health. The quality of vegetables grown in plant factories under hydroponic cultivation, e.g., their sweetness and softness, can be improved by controlling growth factors including the temperature, humidity, light source, and fertilizer. However, soil is cheaper than hydroponic cultivation and the visual phenotype of vegetables grown under the two conditions is different. As it is not clear whether their metabolite composition is also different, we studied leaf lettuce raised under the hydroponic condition in practical plant factory and strictly controlled soil condition. We chose two representative cultivars, “black rose” (BR) and “red fire” (RF) because they are of high economic value. Metabolite profiling by comprehensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) resulted in the annotation of 101 metabolites from 223 peaks detected by GC-MS; LC-MS yielded 95 peaks. The principal component analysis (PCA) scatter plot showed that the most distinct separation patterns on the first principal component (PC1) coincided with differences in the cultivation methods. There were no clear separations related to cultivar differences in the plot. PC1 loading revealed the discriminant metabolites for each cultivation method. The level of amino acids such as lysine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine was significantly increased in hydroponically grown leaf lettuce, while soil-cultivation derived leaf lettuce samples contained significantly higher levels of fatty-acid derived alcohols (tetracosanol and hexacosanol) and lettuce-specific sesquiterpene lactones (lactucopicrin-15-oxalate and 15-deoxylactucin-8-sulfate). These findings suggest that the metabolite composition of leaf lettuce is primarily affected by its cultivation condition. As the discriminant metabolites reveal important factors that contribute to the nutritional value and taste characteristics of leaf lettuce, we performed comprehensive metabolite profiling to identify metabolite compositions, i.e., metabolite signature, that directly improve its quality and value.