Soil physicochemical properties associated with the yield and phytochemical composition of the edible halophyte Crithmum maritimum

Raquel Martins-Noguerol, Luis Matías, Ignacio M. Pérez-Ramos, Xoaquín Moreira, Marta Francisco, Justo Pedroche, Cristina DeAndrés-Gil, Eduardo Gutiérrez , Joaquín J. Salas, Antonio J. Moreno-Pérez, Anthony J. Davy, Sara Muñoz-Vallés, Manuel Enrique Figueroa, Jesús Cambrollé

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There is growing interest in the consumption of halophytes due to their excellent nutritional profile and antioxidant properties, and their cultivation offers viable alternatives in the face of irreversible global salinization of soils. Nevertheless, abiotic factors strongly influence their phytochemical composition, and little is known about how growing conditions can produce plants with the best nutritional and functional properties. Crithmum maritimum is an edible halophyte with antioxidant properties and considerable potential for sustainable agriculture in marginal environments. However, it is found naturally in contrasting habitats with variable soil physicochemical properties and the extent to which edaphic factors can influence plant performance, accumulation of phytochemicals and their quality remains unknown. We investigated the influence of soil physicochemical properties (texture, pH, electrical conductivity, organic matter content and mineral element concentrations) on growth and reproductive performance, nutritional traits, and the accumulation of specific metabolites in C. maritimum. Soil, leaf and seed samples were taken from eight C. maritimum populations located on the southern coasts of Spain and Portugal. We found greater vegetative growth and seed production in coarser, sandier soils with lower microelement concentrations. The nutritional traits of leaves varied, with soil organic matter and macronutrient content associated with reduced leaf Na, protein and phenolic (mainly flavonoid) concentrations, whereas soils with lower pH and Fe concentrations, and higher clay content yielded plants with lower leaf Zn concentration and greater accumulation of hydroxycinnamic acids. The nutritional value of the seed oil composition appeared to be enhanced in soils with coarser texture and lower microelement concentrations. The accumulation of specific phenolic compounds in the seed was influenced by a wide range of soil properties including texture, pH and some microelements. These findings will inform the commercial cultivation of C. maritimum, particularly in the economic exploitation of poorly utilized, saline soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161806
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date25 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023


  • halophyte
  • sea fennel
  • plant-soil relation
  • plant valorization
  • nutrient composition
  • phenolics
  • Nutrient composition
  • Halophyte
  • Plant-soil relation
  • Plant valorization
  • Phenolics
  • Sea fennel

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