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Open AccessArticle

Plant-Based Biostimulants Influence the Agronomical, Physiological, and Qualitative Responses of Baby Rocket Leaves under Diverse Nitrogen Conditions

1
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy
2
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA)—Research Center for Cereal and Industrial Crops, 81100 Caserta, Italy
3
Council National Research (CNR), 80055 Portici, Italy
4
Department of Agriculture and Forest Sciences, University of Tuscia, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2019, 8(11), 522; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8110522
Received: 18 October 2019 / Revised: 4 November 2019 / Accepted: 7 November 2019 / Published: 19 November 2019
Nitrogen is the primary technical means responsible for food production increase, but on the other hand, wise management is needed because its excessive use can have a negative impact on the environment and on green leafy vegetable quality, such as that rocket. Rocket has the characteristics of accumulating nitrate in leaves with possible impacts on human health. In order to overcome this issue, researchers are focusing their attention on the use of alternative means, such as plant biostimulant application. The scope of this study was to assess the effect of legume-derived protein hydrolysate(LDPH) and tropical plant extract(TPE), combined with various doses of nitrogen (0 kg ha−1 non-fertilized; N0); 60 kg ha−1 (sub-optimal; N1); 80 kg ha−1 (optimal; N2); and 100 kg ha−1 (supra-optimal; N3)), in order to reduce nitrogen use, boost yield, and enhance the chemical and nutritional value of leaves without significantly accumulating nitrate. Both vegetal-based plant biostimulants enhanced plant growth, boosted the marketable yield (especially at N0 and N1 levels, by 38.2% and 28.2%, respectively, compared to the non-treated control), and increased the SPAD (Soil Plant Analysis Development) index and leaf pigments content, such as chlorophyll and carotenoids, especially in treated-LDPH rocket. The plant-based biostimulants also produced a major amplification in lipophilic antioxidant activity (+ 48%) and total ascorbic acid content (average + 95.6%), especially at low nitrogen fertilization levels, and maintained nitrate content under the legal European Comission limits. View Full-Text
Keywords: ascorbic acid; Diplotaxis erucoides L.; greenhouse conditions; nitrate; nutritional quality; protein hydrolysate; SPAD index; tropical plant extract ascorbic acid; Diplotaxis erucoides L.; greenhouse conditions; nitrate; nutritional quality; protein hydrolysate; SPAD index; tropical plant extract
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Di Mola, I.; Ottaiano, L.; Cozzolino, E.; Senatore, M.; Giordano, M.; El-Nakhel, C.; Sacco, A.; Rouphael, Y.; Colla, G.; Mori, M. Plant-Based Biostimulants Influence the Agronomical, Physiological, and Qualitative Responses of Baby Rocket Leaves under Diverse Nitrogen Conditions. Plants 2019, 8, 522.

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