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Grain Endogenous Selenium and Moderate Salt Stress Work as Synergic Elicitors in the Enrichment of Bioactive Compounds in Maize Sprouts

Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (DSA3), University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06121 Perugia, Italy
Department for Sustainable Food Process, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Piacenza, 29100 Piacenza, Italy
Department of Sustainability and Productivity of Territorial Systems, Biotechnology and Agro-Industry Division, ENEA Casaccia Research Center, Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 S.M. di Galeria (Rome), Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 735;
Received: 16 April 2020 / Revised: 12 May 2020 / Accepted: 19 May 2020 / Published: 20 May 2020
Salt stress and selenium are known to elicitate the production of plant secondary metabolites with antioxidant properties. On this basis, maize grains obtained from mother plants fertilized or not fertilized with selenium were sprouted at different levels of salinity (0, 25, and 50 mM NaCl) to evaluate the effects on the sprout yield, inorganic and organic Se species, minerals, and secondary metabolites, as revealed by a metabolomics analysis. Grain endogenous selenium (135 mg kg−1 vs. 0.19 mg kg−1 of the non-enriched grain) and salinity affected the sprout yield and composition, with salinity having the greatest effect on secondary metabolites. Most of the Se in sprouts was in an inorganic form, despite Se-enriched grains only containing organic Se. Some synergic effect was observed between Se and salinity. The best combination was obtained with Se-enriched grains sprouted at 25 mM NaCl, since this provided a good yield (not lower than in the untreated control), while sprout shoots were enriched in selenocystine and pro-nutritional semipolar compounds with antioxidant properties. Therefore, using grains from Se-fertilized crops and sprouting them under mild salt stress might represent a promising technique for improving the nutritional value of sprouts. View Full-Text
Keywords: elicitation; abiotic stress; metabolomics; phytochemical; antioxidant elicitation; abiotic stress; metabolomics; phytochemical; antioxidant
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Benincasa, P.; D’Amato, R.; Falcinelli, B.; Troni, E.; Fontanella, M.C.; Frusciante, S.; Guiducci, M.; Beone, G.M.; Businelli, D.; Diretto, G. Grain Endogenous Selenium and Moderate Salt Stress Work as Synergic Elicitors in the Enrichment of Bioactive Compounds in Maize Sprouts. Agronomy 2020, 10, 735.

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