The Effect of Light Intensity before Harvest on Phenethyl Isothiocyanate Concentration in Watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.) Depends on Photoperiod

in HortScience

Watercress plants were grown in growth chambers at 15°C or 25°C and either an 8- or 12-hour photoperiod (PP). The photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) was 265 μmol·m–2·s–1 in all chambers, but beginning 1 week before harvest, half of the plants in each chamber were subjected to a higher PPF (434 μmol·m–2·s–1). At harvest, watercress leaves and stems were analyzed for phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) content. Watercress grown at 25°C, the 12-hour PP, and 1 week of high PPF produced the highest PEITC concentration in leaves and stems, and plants grown at 15°C, the 8-hour PP, and the low PPF until harvest produced the lowest PEITC concentration. Plants grown at the 8-hour PP, then exposed to 1 week of high PPF, produced 57.3% and 45.9% greater PEITC at 25 and 15°C, respectively, then plants exposed to the low PPF until harvest. However, plants grown at the 12-hour PP and subjected to 1 week of high PPF produced PEITC levels similar to plants grown under the low PPF at 25 and 15°C. At 25°C, plants grown under the low PPF and the 12-hour PP produced 62% greater dry mass than plants exposed to 1 week of high PPF and the 8-hour PP, but did not differ in PEITC content. Thus, the effect of 1 week of high PPF on PEITC concentration depended on photoperiod.

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