LEDs Proven to Trigger the Production of Secondary Compounds

Several factors are reinforcing the need to add LED lighting to growing facilities including: climate changes, rising population, property prices, and increasing demand for natural compounds. In this scientific study, researchers point out specific examples proving that LEDs can improve productivity and beneficial chemical production compared to natural light.

Illumitex horticulture specialists make a point to research secondary metabolites, because they are an important factor to many customers.  Secondary metabolites add nutrition, flavor, and value to produce.  This report discusses secondary metabolites in depth, offering results from different lighting treatments.

LEDs Trigger Production of Secondary Compounds

Plants exposed to high light develop short and long-term response mechanisms to reduce stress. Although secondary metabolites are not critical for plant growth, they enhance and protect the plant, contributing to increased survival.

In Table 1, experimental data shows the effects of LEDs on plant growth parameters and metabolism compared to fluorescent lights and high pressure sodium lights.


A petunia hybrid was tested for its volatile molecules (secondary metabolites). The results show LEDs produced increased levels of benzylalcohol, 2-phenylethanol, and phenyl-acetaldehyde.

Panax ginseng tested metabolites phenolic acids to compare LEDs versus HID and Flourescent. The results show LEDs produced higher amounts of vanilic acid, coumaric acid and ferulic acid.

Another plant examined in the study is Mentha, or mint, essential oil. M. Spicata under two LED treatments had a higher percentage than a treatment using sunlight. M. Piperita growing under LED treatments produced better results than the sunlight treatment. M. Longifolia had similar results under LED and sunlight treatments.

There is much work to be done to fully understand the impact of LED lights on primary and secondary metabolism of photosynthetic organisms. This report shows that LEDs can be used in the pre-harvest and post-harvesting processes. Depending on the wavelengths used, the amounts and profiles of several valuable secondary metabolites can be altered.

Read the full scientific report, “Photosynthesis under artificial light: the shift in primary and secondary metabolism”:  http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1640/20130243