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Germination is related with improvements of nutritional value of seeds, since it promotes accumulation of health-promoting phytochemicals. However, only few studies have investigated on phytochemicals accumulation during sprouting under sub-optimal conditions. Thus, we investigated the effect of salinity during germination of an einkorn (TMoM), an emmer (TDiZ) and a durum wheat (TDuC) genotype on the total polyphenols (TPC), free- and bound-phenolic acids [PAs; i.e. caffeic acid, syringic acid, Pcoumaric acid, trans-ferulic acid, and salicylic acid] contents and antiradical activity (Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity; TEAC) of sprouts and wheatgrass. The following NaCl treatments were applied: 0 (control), 25, 50 and 100 mM NaCl concentration throughout the whole experiment, or 50 and 100 mM NaCl until sprout stage and then 0 mM until wheatgrass stage (recovery treatments). TMoM showed higher total bound-PAs both in sprouts and wheatgrass with respect to the other Triticum genotypes (+25% and 24%, respectively) as well as of total bound-PAs and bound-SA in the recovery treatments. Moderate salt stress significantly increased all the investigated variables in TDiZ. Salt stress induced higher TPC and TEAC as well as total free-PAs values till 50 mM NaCl in TDuC, whilst significantly lowered total bound-PAs due to the negative variation of both P-CA (-84%) and trans-FA (-81%) acids. Results indicate that salinity during germination could be efficiently modulated to improve the nutritional quality of sprouts, wheatgrass and cereal-based products.
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