This experiment aimed to assess the development, yield and chemical composition of Petroselinum crispum essential oil (EO), popularly known as parsley under different levels of water stress deficit: 30 to 40% (moderate stress), 50 to 60% (severe stress) and control 0 to 10%. The plants were kept in a greenhouse to complete the cycle, harvested and measured for their biomass (g), development (cm), yield (%) and chemical composition of EO of aerial parts and root. The EO was extracted by hydrodistillation and the chemical analysis done by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). In the control and moderate stress, greater development of the aerial part occurred without showing difference in the root development. A yield increase of EO extracted from the roots was verified when it was submitted to moderate stress, but there was no difference in the aerial part yield. The EO chemical composition was influenced by the different conditions of water deficit, producing 100% of apiole in moderate stress and control of aerial parts and roots. A different behavior was observed for severe stress, which presented three compounds (89.98% apiole, 6.53% β-sesquiphellandrene and 3.49% myristicin) in aerial parts, but four compounds were found for the root (88.40% apiole, 5.83% β-sesquiphellandrene, 3.61% myristicin and 2.16% elemicin). These results indicated that under greater water deficit, the plant produced other compounds besides apiole, probably as a defense mechanism. The results showed that there was influence of the water stress on the plant development as well as on the essential oil yield and chemical composition.
Key words: Apiole, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), essential oil, water stress, parsley.
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