BACKGROUND: The antioxidant activity and essential oil content of plants may vary considerably with respect to environmental conditions, especially nutrient availability. Among micronutrients, zinc (Zn) is needed by plants in only small amounts but is crucial to plant development. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of Zn fertilization on the antioxidant activity, polyphenolic contents and essential oil composition of Pimpinella anisum fruit.
RESULTS: Foliar application of Zn fertilizer considerably increased the number of detected essential oil components from 27 to 45. Zinc application at a rate of 0.2% (w/v) significantly enhanced the levels of 𝜷-bisabolene, germacrene D, n-decane and 𝜶-zingiberene, whereas the opposite trend was observed for (E)-anethole and geijerene. Application of 0.2% Zn considerably increased the levels of phenolic compounds, with chlorogenic acid showing the highest content among eight phenolic compounds detected in treated plants. The maximum antioxidant activity was achieved through application of 0.2% Zn fertilizer.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicated that the quality and quantity of anise fruit essential oil components were significantly altered by application of low levels of Zn. After foliar application of Zn, polyphenolic contents as well as antioxidant activity of anise fruit increased. Using Zn fertilizer is an efficient method to improve the pharmaceutical and food properties of anise fruit.