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The Impacts of Elevated CO2 on Basil and Peppermint

Paper Reviewed
Al Jaouni, S., Saleh, A.M., Wadaan, M.A.M., Hozzein, W.N., Selim, S. and AbdElgawad, H. 2018. Elevated CO2 induces a global metabolic change in basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) and peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) and improves their biological activity. Journal of Plant Physiology 224-225: 121-131.

Introducing their work, Al Jaouni et al. (2018) note that several studies have examined the influence of elevated CO2 on the growth and productivity of food crops. However less attention has been paid to its impact on medicinal and herbal plants. Therefore, hoping to provide some specific information in this regard, the team of six scientists set out to study how elevated CO2 could improve the growth and medicinal value of two commonly used herbs (basil and peppermint).

To accomplish their objective, Al Jaouni et al. grew basil (Ocimum basilicum) and peppermint (Mentha piperita) plants from seed in controlled environment chambers under well-watered and well-fertilized conditions over a period of four weeks under either ambient (360 ppm) or elevated (620 ppm) levels of atmospheric CO2. Then, at the end of their month-long experiment, the researchers collected and analyzed information on several growth-related and medicinal properties of the plants, noting, with regard to the latter, that both of these herbs are "well recognized for their antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and anticancer properties (Lv et al., 2012; Riachi and De Maria, 2015; Szymanowska et al., 2015)."

And what did their analysis reveal?

In describing their findings, Al Jaouni et al. report that "elevated CO2 significantly increased herbal biomass [by over 40%], improved the rates of photosynthesis and dark respiration, and altered the tissue chemistry." Metabolite profiling of both herbs further revealed that "the levels of non-structural carbohydrates, fumarate, glutamine, glutathione, ascorbate, phylloquinone (vitamin K1), anthocyanins and a majority of flavonoids and minerals were significantly improved by elevated CO2." Lastly, the researchers found that elevated CO2 "caused enhancement in antioxidant, antiprotozoal, anti-bacterial and anticancer (against urinary bladder carcinoma; T24P) activities in both plants."

The results of this study are quite encouraging, demonstrating the ability of rising atmospheric CO2 to not only increase the growth and biomass of these two herbs, but to also improve their medicinal value. Unfortunately, about the only place you will hear or learn about these positive findings is here on our CO2 Science website.

Lv, J., Huang, H., Yu, L., Whent, M., Niu, Y., Shi, H., Wang, T.T.Y., Luthria, D., Charles, D. and Yu, L.L. 2012. Phenolic composition and nutraceutical properties of organic and conventional cinnamon and peppermint. Food Chemistry 132: 1442-1450.

Riachi, L.G. and De Maria, C.A.B. 2015. Peppermint antioxidants revisited. Food Chemistry 176: 72-81.

Szymanowska, U., Zlotek, U., Karas, M. and Baraniak, B. 2015. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidative activity of anthocyanins from purple basil leaves induced by selected abiotic elicitors. Food Chemistry 172: 71-77.

Posted 19 July 2018