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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01265

Phytochemical and ecological analysis of two varieties of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) grown in a mountain environment of Italian Alps

Radmila Pavlovic1, 2*,  Sara Panseri3,  Luca Giupponi1, 4*, Valeria Leoni1, 4,  Cinzia Citti5, Chiara Cattaneo6, Maria Cavaletto6 and Anna M. Giorgi1, 4
  • 1University of Milan, Italy
  • 2Department of Agri-Environmental, Food and Animal Sciences, University of Udine, Italy
  • 3Department of Health, Animal Science and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, Italy
  • 4Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Milan, Italy
  • 5Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
  • 6Dipartimento di Scienze e Innovazione Tecnologica, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a multifunctional crop that is capable of prompt environmental adaptation. In this study, a monoecious cultivar (Futura 75) and a dioecious one (Finola) were tested in a mountain area in Valsaviore (Rhaetian Alps, Italy; elevation: 1.100 m a.s.l.) during the growing season 2018. Phytochemical behaviour was evaluated by different analytical approaches: HPLC-high-resolution mass spectrometry, SDS-PAGE LC-MS/MS, HS-SPME GC-MS and GC-FID in order to obtain complete profile of two varieties cultivated in altitude. CSR functional strategy used for ecological evaluation revealed that both genotypes are mainly competitors although Finola is more stress tolerator (C:S:R = 57:26:17%) than Futura (C:S:R = 69:15:16%). The Finola inflorescences were characterised by higher quantities of -ocimene and α-terpinolene, while α- and β-pinene accompanied by extremely high β-myrcene were found as predominant in Futura. Both varieties were rich in sesquiterpenes (45 recognized) among which trans-caryophyllene and α-humulene were the most abundant. Total tetrahydrocannabinol level was lower than 0.1% while the most abundant cannabinoid was cannabidiolic acid (CBDA): 2.3% found in Finola vs 2.7% revealed for Futura. The level of corresponding neutral form, cannabidiol, varied drastically: 0.27% (Finola) vs 0.056% (Futura). Finola showed the unique cannabinoid profile with unexpectedly high cannabidivarin, 2-fold higher that corresponding acidic analogue, whereas the particularity of Futura 75 was the occurrence of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) in the quantities that was double than those exposed for Finola. The seeds from both chemovars proved to be rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and Finola showed a higher ratio ω6/ω3. No difference was found in the protein content and the SDS-PAGE profile was similar. The most abundant protein was edestin, followed by heat shock protein 70, β-conglycinin and vicilin. In conclusion, comprehensive phytochemical and ecological study of two fibre-type varieties cultivated in Italian Alps displayed specific, legal and safe, cannabinoids profile, followed by particular terpene composition, polyunsaturated fatty acids content and favourable protein profile. This postulates that geographical provenience of hemp should be considered in selecting a variety that would be suitable for a specific end-use nutraceutical application.

Keywords: Futura 75, Finola, plant metabolomics;, Terpenes, funcional strategy, hemp seeds proteins, hemp seeds fatty acids , Cannabionoids

Received: 07 May 2019; Accepted: 11 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Pavlovic, Panseri, Giupponi, Leoni, Citti, Cattaneo, Cavaletto and Giorgi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Radmila Pavlovic, University of Milan, Milan, Italy,
Dr. Luca Giupponi, University of Milan, Milan, Italy,