The herbaceous grafting of fruiting vegetables is considered a toolbox for safeguarding yield stability under various distresses and for improving fruit quality. Inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungi seems also to be an efficient tool for increasing the assimilation, uptake and translocation of macroelements and microelements, for modulating plant secondary metabolism and for overcoming several forms of plant distress. The present work evaluated the combined effect of grafting the “Birgah” (B) eggplant onto its wild/allied relatives’ rootstocks (Solanum torvum
(T), S. macrocarpon
(M) and S. paniculatum
(P)) and AM fungi (R. irregularis
) on the yield, fruit quality, nitrogen use efficiency, mineral profile, and nutritional and functional quality. The B/T, B/M and B/P grafting combinations significantly increased the marketable fruit and fruit number compared with those in the ungrafted control. Furthermore, irrespective of the grafting combinations, AM fungi significantly enhanced the marketable fruit, fruit number and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) by 13.3%, 12.7% and 13.3%, respectively compared to those in the untreated control. Exposing the B/T and B/P grafted plants to the +AM treatment significantly increased the ascorbic acid contents by 17.2% and 10.4%, respectively, compared with those in the ungrafted control. Fruits from the combination B/P × +AM had a higher chlorogenic acid content than fruits from the ungrafted control plots. Finally, the B/T × +AM and B/P × +AM combinations decreased glycoalkaloids by 58.7% and 63.7%, respectively, compared with those in the ungrafted control, which represents a highly important target for eggplant fruit healthiness.
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