Mulberry: an ornamental tree that gives bioactive compounds for human health

D. Donno, M.G. Mellano, G. Gamba, I. Riondato, G.L. Beccaro
Mulberry (Morus spp., Moraceae family) has been domesticated over thousands of years and adapted to the wide area of tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones of the northern hemisphere and it can grow in a wide range of climatic, topographic and soil conditions. Mulberry trees have been traditionally cultivated for their leaves as food for silkworms. However currently and especially due to its nutritive value, mulberry fruits are consumed as both fresh and processed products, such as juices, fruit salads and dried fruits. In recent years, wild food plants have become very attractive to the food industry, prompting their use as replacements for synthetic chemicals and nutraceuticals: mulberry is a very important resource for its phytochemical composition, nutritional value, and antioxidant properties. The aim of this study was to describe mulberry fruit quality traits and report on the level of potentially bioactive compounds (HPLC fingerprint) and their influence on total fruit phytocomplex and antioxidant capacity in comparison to the most common fruits. Mulberry was identified as a rich source of antioxidant compounds; the observed analytical fingerprint demonstrated that the species (and in particular the considered genotype, 'Kokuso') represents a rich source of phytochemicals, like organic acids, monoterpenes and polyphenolic compounds, especially flavonols and anthocyanins, which led to reasonably good overall fruit quality. This study developed an important tool to assess mulberry quality, chemical composition, and bioactivity, using different chromatographic methods for comprehensive authentication and quality control of its fruits. The results of the present study may encourage a deeper evaluation of the effective nutraceutical value for the many hundreds of different fruit-bearing Morus spp. cultivars. The growing worldwide interest in introducing the cultivation of Morus spp. to promote the differentiation of the cultivated agrobiodiversity could also be encouraged by the high rusticity of the species that could be managed with more environmentally friendly agrotechniques (if compared with the most commonly grown fruit species), and by the greater sustainability of its production.
Donno, D., Mellano, M.G., Gamba, G., Riondato, I. and Beccaro, G.L. (2021). Mulberry: an ornamental tree that gives bioactive compounds for human health. Acta Hortic. 1331, 205-214
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1331.28
agrobiodiversity, quality, phytochemicals, Morus spp., HPLC

Acta Horticulturae