Beyond nutrition, fruits and vegetables can be considered as natural sources of bioactive molecules, for which beneficial effects on human health are widely recognized. To improve food quality, soilless growing systems could represent a good strategy for promoting a sustainable food production chain, although the nutritional and nutraceutical properties of their products should be investigated in depth.
The main quality traits and the volatile and non-volatile secondary metabolites of Solanum lycopersicum L., Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Fuss and Ocimun basilicum L. grown in an aquaponics system and inorganic farming were quantified and compared.
On a fresh basis, soil-grown P. crispum and O. basilicum showed significantly higher total phenolics and antioxidant activity compared to aquaponic crops, whereas, on a dry basis, both plants showed opposite results. Soil-grown S. lycopersicum was significantly richer in total phenolics, whereas the aquaponic type showed a higher antioxidant activity.
Aquaponics induced the accumulation of resveratrol in P. crispum, rosmarinic acid and myricetin in O. basilicum, and lycopene in S. lycopersicum. Among the volatile compounds, in O. basilicum, linalool was the main constituent in both treatments, whereas τ-cadinol represented the second constituent in aquaponic crops.
The volatile profiles of P. crispum did not differ significantly between the two cultivation methods.
The overall quality of organic and aquaponics cultures appeared to be comparable. The results showed that the aquaponic farming method can be an innovative, rapid and sustainable way of producing quality food.
Source: Braglia, R., Costa, P., Di Marco, G., D’Agostino, A., Redi, E. L., Scuderi, F., … & Canini, A. (2021). Phytochemicals and quality level of food plants grown in aquaponics system. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
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