Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica
Houtt.) and Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia x bohemica
) are invasive alien plant species, causing great global ecological and economic damage. Mechanical excavation of plant material represents an effective containment method, but it is not economically and environmentally sustainable as it produces an excessive amount of waste. Thus, practical uses of these plants are actively being sought. In this study, we explored the carotenoid profiles and carotenoid content of mature (green) and senescing leaves of both knotweeds. Both plants showed similar pigment profiles. By means of high performance thin-layer chromatography with densitometry and high performance liquid chromatography coupled to photodiode array and mass spectrometric detector, 11 carotenoids (and their derivatives) and 4 chlorophylls were identified in green leaves, whereas 16 distinct carotenoids (free carotenoids and xanthophyll esters) were found in senescing leaves. Total carotenoid content in green leaves of Japanese knotweed and Bohemian knotweed (378 and 260 mg of lutein equivalent (LE)/100 g dry weight (DW), respectively) was comparable to that of spinach (384 mg LE/100 g DW), a well-known rich source of carotenoids. A much lower total carotenoid content was found for senescing leaves of Japanese and Bohemian knotweed (67 and 70 mg LE/100 g DW, respectively). Thus, green leaves of both studied knotweeds represent a rich and sustainable natural source of bioactive carotenoids. Exploitation of these invaders for the production of high value-added products should consequently promote their mechanical control.
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