The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. subsp. Scolymus (L.) Hegi) is a multi-year species rich in various classes of phytochemicals with known nutritional and pharmacological properties, such as polyphenols, sesquiterpene lactones, and terpenoids. Over the last decade, hybrids cultivars are transforming the artichoke market for their higher uniformity and stability over the traditional landraces, further increasing the potential of the artichoke as a source of commercial extracts and bioactive molecules. Our aim was to investigate the mineral and phytochemical profiles of leaves from seven seed-propagated hybrids by using an untargeted metabolomic approach based on ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Metabolomics identified several compounds in the tested varieties, namely 98 polyphenols, 123 sesquiterpene lactones, and 221 other metabolites. The phenolic content ranged from 3.01 mg Eq./g fw (for 'Opera') to 4.71 mg Eq./g fw (for 'Opal'). Sesquiterpene lactones were, on average, 2.11 mg Eq./g fw. Multivariate statistics (HCA, PCA and OPLS-DA) highlighted the main metabolomics differences among cultivars, which weakly correlated with their agronomic classification. The seven cultivars showed distinctive metabolomics profiles, with 'Opal' and 'Istar' being the most valuable hybrids. The 3-hydroxyphenyl-valeric acid (a medium-chain fatty acid) and the 6-Gingesulfonic acid (a methoxyphenol) were the most discriminant markers. Our findings illustrated the quantitative and qualitative variation of several classes of phytochemicals in seed-propagated artichoke cultivars and allowed identifying distinctive metabolic signatures for both phenolic compounds and sesquiterpene lactones. This work supports the exploitation of the artichoke leaves from hybrid cultivars as a rich source of bioactive phytochemicals.
- Cynara cardunculus
- multivariate statistics