Greenhouse and field experiments were carried out in order to investigate the influence of mycorrhizal inoculation on total phenolic content (TPC) and antioxidant activity, expressed as antiradical power (ARP), of artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus F.) leaves and flower heads extracts. The establishment of mycorrhizal symbiosis was monitored in pot and field grown plants, and the persistence of the inoculated AMF in roots after 2 years’ growth in the field was assessed by fungal ITS sequencing. Both in the greenhouse and in the field, marked increases in TPC and ARP were detected in leaves and flower heads of artichoke plants inoculated with the AMfungal species Glomus intraradices, either alone or in mixture with Glomus mosseae. In the field, plants inoculated with Glomus mix showed flower heads ARP content increases of 52.7 and 30.0% in the first and second year, respectively, compared with uninoculated plants. After 2 years’ growth in the field ITS rDNA sequences clustering with those of G. mosseae and G. intraradices were retrieved only from inoculated plant roots. Our data show that mycorrhizal inoculation may represent an efficient and sustainable strategy to improve productivity and enhance plant biosynthesis of secondary metabolites with health promoting activities.
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