Effect of a Shading Mesh on the Metabolic, Nutritional, and Defense Profiles of Harvested Greenhouse-Grown Organic Tomato Fruits and Leaves Revealed by NMR Metabolomics

Controlling the temperature inside a greenhouse during the summer is a problem of increasing importance in the Mediterranean countries, especially in the Spanish southeast. The metabolic profile of greenhouse tomatoes and leaves grown under conventional conditions and within the presence of a shade mesh (∼50% reduction of sunlight radiation) has been monitored. Tomatoes were weekly harvested from May to July 2017 and analyzed by NMR spectroscopy coupled to multivariate data analysis techniques, together with oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assays (for antioxidant activity). Fatty acids and carotenoids profiles were unraveled by GC-FID and HPLC-DAD, respectively. To verify whether it would be possible to take advantage of different light growing conditions to potentiate a plant’s defense system, leaves of the corresponding plants were collected and their methanolic extracts were analyzed by NMR toward deciphering new biomarkers, which were used to assess their antibacterial and antibiofilm activities. The presence of a shading mesh resulted in a reduction in tomato production and in smaller fruits with lower contents of sugars (glucose and fructose) and carotenoids (lycopene and β-carotene) and higher contents of organic acids, amino acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acids) and of phenylpropanoids and flavonoids (which contributed to an increased antioxidant activity). Methanolic extracts of leaves of nonshaded plants showed a higher antibiofilm activity than that from shaded plants. This activity was well-correlated with an increase of phenolic compounds, together with some specific amino acids and organic acids from tomato leaves.