Effects of salinity stress on carotenoids, anthocyanins, and color of diverse tomato genotypes

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Nov 9;59(21):11676-82. doi: 10.1021/jf2021623. Epub 2011 Oct 10.


One nonanthocyanin-accumulating (Ailsa Craig) and three anthocyanin-accumulating tomato genotypes (Anthocyanin fruit type, Atroviolaceum, and Sun Black) were analyzed to assess differences in their carotenoid and anthocyanin levels and color and to evaluate the effects of nutrient solutions with different salt concentrations on these parameters. The carotenoid content of control Atroviolaceum tomatoes was ca. 2-2.5-fold higher relative to the other two types, and the color of its puree could be visually distinguished from those of other genotypes. Salinity stress led in some cases to a 2-3-fold increase in the lycopene content. Saline treatment increased the accumulation of total anthocyanins in fruits of Sun Black (2-fold increase), while it reduced it in fruits of Anthocyanin (10-fold decrease). In general, the treatment increased the differences in color of different purees. These results indicate that salinity stress can lead to similar or higher increases in tomato carotenoids than those achieved by genetic engineering. In addition, these changes were accompanied by visually discernible color differences in tomato products. Our findings show the considerable potential of exploiting saline soils to obtain tomatoes with higher levels of secondary metabolites like carotenoids and anthocyanins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Anthocyanins / metabolism*
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Carotenoids / metabolism*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Genotype
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / chemistry
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism*
  • Pigmentation
  • Sodium Chloride / analysis
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism*
  • Soil / analysis


  • Anthocyanins
  • Soil
  • Carotenoids
  • Sodium Chloride