Nowadays, phytochemicals and antioxidants in plants are raising interest in consumers for their roles in the maintenance of human health. Phenolics and flavonoids are known for their health-promoting properties due to protective effects against cardiovascular disease, cancers and other disease. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the traditional folk medicinal plants and it is widely used in cooking in Malaysia. In this study, four levels of glasshouse light intensities (310, 460, 630 and 790 μmol m(-2)s(-1)) were used in order to consider the effect of light intensity on the production, accumulation and partitioning of total phenolics (TP), total flavonoids (TF) and antioxidant activities in two varieties of Malaysian young ginger (Zingiber officinale). TF biosynthesis was highest in the Halia Bara variety under 310 μmol m(-2)s(-1) and TP was high in this variety under a light intensity of 790 μmol m(-2)s(-1). The highest amount of these components accumulated in the leaves and after that in the rhizomes. Also, antioxidant activities determined by the 1,1-Diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) assay in both of varieties, increased significantly (p ≤ 0.01) with increasing TF concentration, and high antioxidant activity was observed in the leaves of Halia Bara grown under 310 μmol m(-2)s(-1). The ferric reducing (FRAP) activity of the rhizomes was higher than that of the leaves in 310 μmol m(-2)s(-1) of sun light. This study indicates the ability of different light intensities to enhance the medicinal components and antioxidant activities of the leaves and young rhizomes of Zingiber officinale varieties. Additionally, this study also validated their medicinal potential based on TF and TP contents.
The effect of two different CO(2) concentrations (400 and 800 μmol mol(-1)) on the photosynthesis rate, primary and secondary metabolite syntheses and the antioxidant activities of the leaves, stems and rhizomes of two Zingiber officinale varieties (Halia Bentong and Halia Bara) were assessed in an effort to compare and validate the medicinal potential of the subterranean part of the young ginger. High photosynthesis rate (10.05 μmol CO(2) m(-2)s(-1) in Halia Bara) and plant biomass (83.4 g in Halia Bentong) were observed at 800 μmol mol(-1) CO(2). Stomatal conductance decreased and water use efficiency increased with elevated CO(2) concentration. Total flavonoids (TF), total phenolics (TP), total soluble carbohydrates (TSC), starch and plant biomass increased significantly (P ≤ 0.05) in all parts of the ginger varieties under elevated CO(2) (800 μmol mol(-1)). The order of the TF and TP increment in the parts of the plant was rhizomes > stems > leaves. More specifically, Halia Bara had a greater increase of TF (2.05 mg/g dry weight) and TP (14.31 mg/g dry weight) compared to Halia Bentong (TF: 1.42 mg/g dry weight; TP: 9.11 mg/g dry weight) in average over the whole plant. Furthermore, plants with the highest rate of photosynthesis had the highest TSC and phenolics content. Significant differences between treatments and species were observed for TF and TP production. Correlation coefficient showed that TSC and TP content are positively correlated in both varieties. The antioxidant activity, as determined by the ferric reducing/antioxidant potential (FRAP) activity, increased in young ginger grown under elevated CO(2). The FRAP values for the leaves, rhizomes and stems extracts of both varieties grown under two different CO(2) concentrations (400 and 800 μmol mol(-1)) were significantly lower than those of vitamin C (3107.28 μmol Fe (II)/g) and α-tocopherol (953 μmol Fe (II)/g), but higher than that of BHT (74.31 μmol Fe (II)/g). These results indicate that the plant biomass, primary and secondary metabolite synthesis, and following that, antioxidant activities of Malaysian young ginger varieties can be enhanced through controlled environment (CE) and CO(2) enrichment.