Rocket salad: crop description, bioactive compounds and breeding perspectives

P. Tripodi, G. Francese, G. Mennella


Rocket salad is a plant member of the Brassicaceae family whose name encloses species of the Eruca and Diplotaxis genera characterized by leaves with peculiar pungent taste and strong flavour. It has been originated in the Mediterranean area and nowadays is worldwide cultivated and consumed as food condiment and in ready-to-use mixed salad packages. Several other uses are recognized in cosmetics and medicine. This crop represents a valuable source of health benefits due to the presence of a range of health-promoting phytochemicals including carotenoids, vitamin C, fiber, polyphenols, and glucosinolates. These compounds are potentially linked in the prevention of certain diseases and types of cancer. Glucosinolates, represent the major class of compounds in rocket, and their hydrolysis products are responsible of the typical pungent aromas and flavours. Despite the continuous increase of the global consumption during the recent years, few efforts have been carried out in genetic improvement programs aimed to constitute new varieties due to biological and reproductive barriers. In the present article is provided a brief overview of the principal species of rocket salad used in dietary and discussed the qualitative properties as well as the potentiality and constraints for breeding.

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