Image_1_Isosmotic Macrocation Variation Modulates Mineral Efficiency, Morpho-Physiological Traits, and Functional Properties in Hydroponically Grown Lettuce Varieties (Lactuca sativa L.).JPEG
The management of mineral elements in agriculture is important for their nutritional role for plants and dietary value for humans, sparking interest in strategies that can increase mineral use efficiency and accumulation in plant food. In this work, we evaluated the effects of the isosmotic variations of the concentration on three macrocations (K, Ca, and Mg) in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Our aim was to improve the nutritional components of this valuable dietary source of minerals. Using a full factorial design, we analyzed mineral utilization efficiency (UtE), leaf morphology, gas exchange parameters, phenolic profiles (through ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled to a quadrupole-time-of-flight (UHPLC-QTOF) mass spectrometry), and enzymatic activities in two phytochemically diverse butterhead lettuce varieties (red or green). Plants were fed in hydroponics with three nutrient solutions (NSs) with different ratios of K, Ca, and Mg. The variation of these minerals in the edible product was associated with alterations of the morphology and physiology of the leaves, and of the quality and functional properties of lettuce, with a trade-off between total accumulation and mineral UtE. Moreover, in non-limiting conditions of nutrient availability, significant mineral interactions were also present. The flexibility of the plant response to the different ratios of macrocations, and the observed large intraspecific variation, were adequate to provide mineral-specific phytochemical profiles to the edible product. Specifically, the full-red lettuce provided more interesting results in regard to the compositional and functional attributes of the leaves.