Physio-Biochemical Composition and Untargeted Metabolomics of Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) Make It Promising Functional Food and Help in Mitigating Salinity Stress

PLoS One. 2015 Dec 7;10(12):e0144469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144469. eCollection 2015.


Cumin is an annual, aromatic, herbaceous, medicinal, spice plant, most widely used as a food additive and flavoring agent in different cuisines. The study is intended to comprehensively analyse physiological parameters, biochemical composition and metabolites under salinity stress. Seed germination index, rate of seed emergence, rate of seed germination, mean germination time, plant biomass, total chlorophyll and carotenoid contents decreased concomitantly with salinity. In contrast, total antioxidant activity, H2O2, proline and MDA contents increased concurrently with stress treatments. Total phenolic and flavonoid contents were decreased initially about 1.4-fold at 50 mM, and thereafter increased about 1.2-fold at 100 mM NaCl stress. Relative water content remained unchanged up to 50 mM NaCl stress, and thereafter decreased significantly. About 2.8-fold electrolyte leakage was found in 50 mM, which increases further 4-fold at 100 mM NaCl stress. Saturated fatty acids (FAs) increased gradually with salinity, whereas unsaturation index and degree of unsaturation change arbitrarily along with the percent quantity of unsaturated FAs. Total lipid and fatty acid composition were significantly influenced by salinity stress. A total of 45 differentially expressed metabolites were identified, including luteolin, salvianolic acid, kaempferol and quercetin, which are phenolic, flavonoid or alkaloids in nature and contain antioxidant activities. Additionally, metabolites with bioactivity such as anticancerous (docetaxel) and antimicrobial (megalomicin) properties were also identified. The study evidenced that plant shoots are a rich source of metabolites, essential amino acids, phenolic compounds and fatty acids, which unveil the medicinal potential of this plant, and also provide useful insight about metabolic responses under salinity stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Cuminum / growth & development
  • Cuminum / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Functional Food*
  • Germination
  • Metabolomics*
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Seeds / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Antioxidants
  • Fatty Acids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Chlorophyll

Grant support

This study was supported by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR;, Government of India, New Delhi [BSC0107–PlaGen]. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.