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Plants, Volume 7, Issue 1 (March 2018)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Plants in 2017
Plants 2018, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/plants7010005
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Plants maintains high quality standards for its published papers.[...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle The Occurrence of Flavonoids and Related Compounds in Cedrus brevifolia A. Henry ex Elwes & A. Henry Needles. Inhibitory Potencies on Lipoxygenase, Linoleic Acid Lipid Peroxidation and Antioxidant Activity
Plants 2018, 7(1), 1; doi:10.3390/plants7010001
Received: 2 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 27 December 2017
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Abstract
The phytochemical analysis of the polar extracts of Cedrus brevifolia needles yielded 20 compounds, namely from the methanol extract we isolated three flavonoids (13), one hydrolysable tannin (4), eleven phenolic derivatives (515) and
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The phytochemical analysis of the polar extracts of Cedrus brevifolia needles yielded 20 compounds, namely from the methanol extract we isolated three flavonoids (13), one hydrolysable tannin (4), eleven phenolic derivatives (515) and one apocarotenoid (16), while from the methanol: water (5:1) extract we isolated four flavonoids (1720). Chemical structures of all isolated compounds were determined by 1D, 2D-NMR (1 Dimension, 2 Dimensions Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) and UV-Vis (Ultraviolet-Visible) spectroscopy. Furthermore, the antioxidant potentials and the anti-inflammatory activities of both crude extracts and isolates were evaluated through DPPH radical scavenging capability, linoleic acid lipid peroxidation inhibition, and soybean LOX inhibition assays. This is the first report on the chemical profile of C. brevifolia needles. Catechin was the main compound derived from the methanol extract. According to our results, 4-O-β-d-glucopyranyl trans-p-coumaric acid and taxifolin were the most active ingredients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Flavonoids)
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Open AccessArticle Nitrogen Nutrition of Fruit Trees to Reconcile Productivity and Environmental Concerns
Plants 2018, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/plants7010004
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 3 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract
Although perennial fruit crops represent 1% of global agricultural land, they are of a great economic importance in world trade and in the economy of many regions. The perennial woody nature of fruit trees, their physiological stages of growth, the root distribution pattern,
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Although perennial fruit crops represent 1% of global agricultural land, they are of a great economic importance in world trade and in the economy of many regions. The perennial woody nature of fruit trees, their physiological stages of growth, the root distribution pattern, and the presence of herbaceous vegetation in alleys make orchard systems efficient in the use and recycling of nitrogen (N). The present paper intends to review the existing literature on N nutrition of young and mature deciduous and evergreen fruit trees with special emphasis to temperate and Mediterranean climates. There are two major sources of N contributing to vegetative tree growth and reproduction: root N uptake and internal N cycling. Optimisation of the use of external and internal N sources is important for a sustainable fruit production, as N use efficiency by young and mature fruit trees is generally lower than 55% and losses of fertilizer N may occur with the consequent economic and environmental concern. Organic alternatives to mineral N fertilizer like the application of manure, compost, mulching, and cover crops are scarcely used in perennial fruit trees, in spite of the fact that society’s expectations call for more sustainable production techniques and the demand for organic fruits is increasing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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Open AccessArticle Raman Imaging of Plant Cell Walls in Sections of Cucumis sativus
Plants 2018, 7(1), 7; doi:10.3390/plants7010007
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 23 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
Raman microspectra combine information on chemical composition of plant tissues with spatial information. The contributions from the building blocks of the cell walls in the Raman spectra of plant tissues can vary in the microscopic sub-structures of the tissue. Here, we discuss the
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Raman microspectra combine information on chemical composition of plant tissues with spatial information. The contributions from the building blocks of the cell walls in the Raman spectra of plant tissues can vary in the microscopic sub-structures of the tissue. Here, we discuss the analysis of 55 Raman maps of root, stem, and leaf tissues of Cucumis sativus, using different spectral contributions from cellulose and lignin in both univariate and multivariate imaging methods. Imaging based on hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) indicates different substructures in the xylem cell walls of the different tissues. Using specific signals from the cell wall spectra, analysis of the whole set of different tissue sections based on the Raman images reveals differences in xylem tissue morphology. Due to the specifics of excitation of the Raman spectra in the visible wavelength range (532 nm), which is, e.g., in resonance with carotenoid species, effects of photobleaching and the possibility of exploiting depletion difference spectra for molecular characterization in Raman imaging of plants are discussed. The reported results provide both, specific information on the molecular composition of cucumber tissue Raman spectra, and general directions for future imaging studies in plant tissues. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Cistus incanus from Strandja Mountain as a Source of Bioactive Antioxidants
Plants 2018, 7(1), 8; doi:10.3390/plants7010008
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of the present study is to survey the extraction conditions and explore the antioxidant potential of the wild herb Cistus incanus, which is non-traditional in Bulgarian ethnomedicine and widespread in the Strandja Mountain. The influence of the extraction time (0–500
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The purpose of the present study is to survey the extraction conditions and explore the antioxidant potential of the wild herb Cistus incanus, which is non-traditional in Bulgarian ethnomedicine and widespread in the Strandja Mountain. The influence of the extraction time (0–500 min) and solvent composition (0–50% ethanol in water) on the polyphenols, flavonoid yields and on the antioxidant capacity of the extracts of leaves, stalks (wood parts) and bud mixture were studied. The antioxidant capacity (AOC) was evaluated by use of scavenging assays of 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radicals. Total polyphenol and flavonoid contents were quantified using UV–vis (ultraviolet-visible) spectrophotometry. The optimal yield of the desired components was obtained with 30% ethanol in water solvent at the 390th min of extraction time. In addition, the influence of seasonality (winter and summer Cistus incanus), and of the different aerial parts—hard-coated seeds, buds, and a mixture of leaves and stalks of the wild plant—on the presence of polyphenols, flavonoids, and AOC were investigated. The present work revealed that the high values of polyphenols, flavonoids and the high AOC occurred not only in the summer leaves, but were also found in the winter leaves, hard-coated seeds, buds, and stalks. Based on the obtained results, the Cistus incanus from Strandja Mountain could be an excellent new source of natural antioxidants in food and for the pharmaceutical industries. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Nitrogen Fertilizer Management in Dryland Wheat Cropping Systems
Plants 2018, 7(1), 9; doi:10.3390/plants7010009
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 29 December 2017 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 29 January 2018
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Abstract
Wheat is the most widely cultivated food crop in the world, which provides nutrition to most of the world population and is well adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Timely and efficient rates of nitrogen (N) application are vital for increasing
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Wheat is the most widely cultivated food crop in the world, which provides nutrition to most of the world population and is well adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Timely and efficient rates of nitrogen (N) application are vital for increasing wheat grain yield and protein content, and maintaining environmental sustainability. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of using different rates and split application of N on the performance of spring wheat in dryland cropping systems. The experiment was conducted in three different locations in Montana and Idaho during two consecutive growing seasons. A split-plot experimental design was used with three at planting N fertilization application (0, 90 and 135 kg N ha−1) and two topdressing N fertilization strategies as treatments. A number of variables such as grain yield (GY), protein content (GP) in the grains and N uptake (NUP) were assessed. There was a significant effect of climate, N rate, and time application on the wheat performance. The results showed that at-planting N fertilizer application of 90 kg N ha−1 has significantly increased GY, GP and NUP. On the other hand, for these site-years, increasing at-planting N fertilizer rate to 135 kg N ha−1 did not further enhance wheat GY, GP and NUP values. For all six site-years, topdress N fertilizer applied at flowering did not improve wheat GY, GP and NUP compared to at-planting fertilizer alone. As the risk of yield loss is minimal with split N application, from these results we concluded the best treatment for study is treatments that had received 90 kg N ha−1 split as 45 kg N ha−1 at planting and 45 kg N ha−1 at flowering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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Open AccessArticle Imaging and Spectroscopy of Natural Fluorophores in Pine Needles
Plants 2018, 7(1), 10; doi:10.3390/plants7010010
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
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Abstract
Many plant tissues fluoresce due to the natural fluorophores present in cell walls or within the cell protoplast or lumen. While lignin and chlorophyll are well-known fluorophores, other components are less well characterized. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of fresh or fixed vibratome-cut sections of
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Many plant tissues fluoresce due to the natural fluorophores present in cell walls or within the cell protoplast or lumen. While lignin and chlorophyll are well-known fluorophores, other components are less well characterized. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of fresh or fixed vibratome-cut sections of radiata pine needles revealed the presence of suberin, lignin, ferulate, and flavonoids associated with cell walls as well as several different extractive components and chlorophyll within tissues. Comparison of needles in different physiological states demonstrated the loss of chlorophyll in both chlorotic and necrotic needles. Necrotic needles showed a dramatic change in the fluorescence of extractives within mesophyll cells from ultraviolet (UV) excited weak blue fluorescence to blue excited strong green fluorescence associated with tissue browning. Comparisons were made among fluorophores in terms of optimal excitation, relative brightness compared to lignin, and the effect of pH of mounting medium. Fluorophores in cell walls and extractives in lumens were associated with blue or green emission, compared to the red emission of chlorophyll. Autofluorescence is, therefore, a useful method for comparing the histology of healthy and diseased needles without the need for multiple staining techniques, potentially aiding visual screening of host resistance and disease progression in needle tissue. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Fluorescent Nano-Probes to Image Plant Cell Walls by Super-Resolution STED Microscopy
Plants 2018, 7(1), 11; doi:10.3390/plants7010011
Received: 2 January 2018 / Revised: 28 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
Lignocellulosic biomass is a complex network of polymers making up the cell walls of plants. It represents a feedstock of sustainable resources to be converted into fuels, chemicals, and materials. Because of its complex architecture, lignocellulose is a recalcitrant material that requires some
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Lignocellulosic biomass is a complex network of polymers making up the cell walls of plants. It represents a feedstock of sustainable resources to be converted into fuels, chemicals, and materials. Because of its complex architecture, lignocellulose is a recalcitrant material that requires some pretreatments and several types of catalysts to be transformed efficiently. Gaining more knowledge in the architecture of plant cell walls is therefore important to understand and optimize transformation processes. For the first time, super-resolution imaging of poplar wood samples has been performed using the Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) technique. In comparison to standard confocal images, STED reveals new details in cell wall structure, allowing the identification of secondary walls and middle lamella with fine details, while keeping open the possibility to perform topochemistry by the use of relevant fluorescent nano-probes. In particular, the deconvolution of STED images increases the signal-to-noise ratio so that images become very well defined. The obtained results show that the STED super-resolution technique can be easily implemented by using cheap commercial fluorescent rhodamine-PEG nano-probes which outline the architecture of plant cell walls due to their interaction with lignin. Moreover, the sample preparation only requires easily-prepared plant sections of a few tens of micrometers, in addition to an easily-implemented post-treatment of images. Overall, the STED super-resolution technique in combination with a variety of nano-probes can provide a new vision of plant cell wall imaging by filling in the gap between classical photon microscopy and electron microscopy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evidence of Adaptation to Recent Changes in Atmospheric CO2 in Four Weedy Species
Plants 2018, 7(1), 12; doi:10.3390/plants7010012
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 14 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
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Abstract
Seeds of three C3 and one C4 annual weedy species were collected from agricultural fields in Beltsville, Maryland in 1966 and 2006, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations averaged about 320 and 380 mol mol−1, respectively. Plants from each collection
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Seeds of three C3 and one C4 annual weedy species were collected from agricultural fields in Beltsville, Maryland in 1966 and 2006, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations averaged about 320 and 380 mol mol−1, respectively. Plants from each collection year were grown over a range of CO2 concentrations to test for adaptation of these weedy species to recent changes in atmospheric CO2. In all three of the C3 species, the increase in CO2 concentration from 320 mol mol−1 to 380 mol mol−1 increased total dry mass at 24 days in plants from seeds collected in 2006, but not in plants from seeds collected in 1966. Shoot and seed dry mass at maturity was greater at the higher growth CO2 in plants collected in 2006 than in 1966 in two of the species. Down-regulation of photosynthetic carboxylation capacity during growth at high CO2 was less in the newer seed lots than in the older in two of the species. Overall, the results indicate that adaptation to recent changes in atmospheric CO2 has occurred in some of these weedy species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Adaptation to Climate Change)

Review

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Open AccessReview Flavonoids and Phenolic Acids from Oregano: Occurrence, Biological Activity and Health Benefits
Plants 2018, 7(1), 2; doi:10.3390/plants7010002
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 23 December 2017 / Published: 26 December 2017
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Abstract
Several herb species classified as oregano have been widely used in folk medicine to alleviate inflammation-related diseases, respiratory and digestive disorders, headaches, rheumatism, diabetes and others. These potential health benefits are partially attributed to the phytochemical compounds in oregano such as flavonoids (FL)
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Several herb species classified as oregano have been widely used in folk medicine to alleviate inflammation-related diseases, respiratory and digestive disorders, headaches, rheumatism, diabetes and others. These potential health benefits are partially attributed to the phytochemical compounds in oregano such as flavonoids (FL) and phenolic acids (PA). Flavonoids and phenolic acids are among the most abundant and most studied phytochemicals in oregano species. Epidemiological, in vitro and in vivo experiments have related long-term consumption of dietary FL and PA with a decreased risk of incidence of chronic diseases. The aim of this manuscript is to summarize the latest studies on the identification and distribution of flavonoids and phenolic compounds from oregano species and their potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Flavonoids)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Advances in Non-Destructive Early Assessment of Fruit Ripeness towards Defining Optimal Time of Harvest and Yield Prediction—A Review
Plants 2018, 7(1), 3; doi:10.3390/plants7010003
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 5 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
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Abstract
Global food security for the increasing world population not only requires increased sustainable production of food but a significant reduction in pre- and post-harvest waste. The timing of when a fruit is harvested is critical for reducing waste along the supply chain and
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Global food security for the increasing world population not only requires increased sustainable production of food but a significant reduction in pre- and post-harvest waste. The timing of when a fruit is harvested is critical for reducing waste along the supply chain and increasing fruit quality for consumers. The early in-field assessment of fruit ripeness and prediction of the harvest date and yield by non-destructive technologies have the potential to revolutionize farming practices and enable the consumer to eat the tastiest and freshest fruit possible. A variety of non-destructive techniques have been applied to estimate the ripeness or maturity but not all of them are applicable for in situ (field or glasshouse) assessment. This review focuses on the non-destructive methods which are promising for, or have already been applied to, the pre-harvest in-field measurements including colorimetry, visible imaging, spectroscopy and spectroscopic imaging. Machine learning and regression models used in assessing ripeness are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Crop Enhancement for Global Food Security)
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Open AccessReview Deciphering the Evolution and Development of the Cuticle by Studying Lipid Transfer Proteins in Mosses and Liverworts
Plants 2018, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/plants7010006
Received: 30 October 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
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Abstract
When plants conquered land, they developed specialized organs, tissues, and cells in order to survive in this new and harsh terrestrial environment. New cell polymers such as the hydrophobic lipid-based polyesters cutin, suberin, and sporopollenin were also developed for protection against water loss,
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When plants conquered land, they developed specialized organs, tissues, and cells in order to survive in this new and harsh terrestrial environment. New cell polymers such as the hydrophobic lipid-based polyesters cutin, suberin, and sporopollenin were also developed for protection against water loss, radiation, and other potentially harmful abiotic factors. Cutin and waxes are the main components of the cuticle, which is the waterproof layer covering the epidermis of many aerial organs of land plants. Although the in vivo functions of the group of lipid binding proteins known as lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) are still rather unclear, there is accumulating evidence suggesting a role for LTPs in the transfer and deposition of monomers required for cuticle assembly. In this review, we first present an overview of the data connecting LTPs with cuticle synthesis. Furthermore, we propose liverworts and mosses as attractive model systems for revealing the specific function and activity of LTPs in the biosynthesis and evolution of the plant cuticle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Plant Cuticle)
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