Selenium Biofortification in Fragaria x ananassa: Implications on Strawberry Fruits Quality, Content of Bioactive Health Beneficial Compounds and Metabolomic Profile
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Selenium (Se) is an essential nutrient for humans, due to its antioxidant properties, whereas, to date, its essentiality to plants still remains to be demonstrated. Nevertheless, if added to the cultivation substrate, plants growth resulted enhanced. However, the concentration of Se in agricultural soils is very variable, ranging from 0.01 mg kg(-1) up to 10 mg kg(-1) in seleniferous areas. Therefore several studies have been performed aimed at bio-fortifying crops with Se and the approaches exploited were mainly based on the application of Se fertilizers. The aim of the present research was to assess the biofortification potential of Se in hydroponically grown strawberry fruits and its effects on qualitative parameters and nutraceutical compounds. The supplementation with Se did not negatively affect the growth and the yield of strawberries, and induced an accumulation of Se in fruits. Furthermore, the metabolomic analyses highlighted an increase in flavonoid and polyphenol compounds, which contributes to the organoleptic features and antioxidant capacity of fruits; in addition, an increase in the fruits sweetness also was detected in biofortified strawberries. In conclusion, based on our observations, strawberry plants seem a good target for Se biofortification, thus allowing the increase in the human intake of this essential micronutrient.