Abstract: Promising energy crops such as Jatropha curcas Linnaeus (JCL), which are planted on marginal lands, or microalgae such as Chlorella, which are cultivated in ponds located on mudflats or deserts, have been regarded with high hopes to solve the shortage of food crops and increase the amount of biodiesel (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester, FAME) production. However, the annual yields of biomass and transport fuels (t/ha) of both are still unclear and often exaggerated in the literature. Large portions of JCL biomass, including tree trunks and leaves, can also be used to generate electricity along with FAME, which is produced from seed lipids. Meanwhile, lipid extracted algae (LEA) are composed of proteins, polysaccharides, and lipids other than glycerides which are unable to be esterified to form FAME and much more abundant in the microalgae than oil cake in the oil crops. Therefore, it has been strongly suggested that not only transesterification or esterification but also Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process and bio-electricity generation should be considered as routes to produce biofuels. Otherwise, the yield of biofuel would be extremely low using either JCL or Chlorella as feedstock. The Life-Cycle Inventories (LCI) of the biofuel processes with whole biomass of JCL and Chlorella were compared based on their net energy ratio (NER) and CO2 emission saving (CES). It was shown that the technological improvement of irrigation, cultivation, and processing for either economic-crops or microalgae were all necessary to meet the requirements of commercial biofuel production.
Abstract: Isabgol (Plantago ovata Forsk.) is an important medicinal plant having high pharmacological activity in its seed husk, which is substantially used in the food, beverages and packaging industries. Nevertheless, isabgol lags behind in research, particularly for genomic resources, like molecular markers, genetic maps, etc. Presently, molecular markers can be easily developed through next generation sequencing technologies, more efficiently, cost effectively and in less time than ever before. This study was framed keeping in view the need to develop molecular markers for this economically important crop by employing a microsatellite enrichment protocol using a next generation sequencing platform (ion torrent PGM™) to obtain simple sequence repeats (SSRs) for Plantago ovata for the very first time. A total of 3447 contigs were assembled, which contained 249 SSRs. Thirty seven loci were randomly selected for primer development; of which, 30 loci were successfully amplified. The developed microsatellite markers showed the amplification of the expected size and cross-amplification in another six species of Plantago. The SSR markers were unable to show polymorphism within P. ovata, suggesting that low variability exists within genotypes of P. ovata. This study suggests that PGM™ sequencing is a rapid and cost-effective tool for developing SSR markers for non-model species, and the markers so-observed could be useful in the molecular breeding of P. ovata.
Abstract: This article is intended as a review of the current situation regarding the impact of olive cultivation in Southern Spain (Andalusia) on soil degradation processes and its progression into yield impacts, due to diminishing soil profile depth and climate change in the sloping areas where it is usually cultivated. Finally, it explores the possible implications in the regional agricultural policy these results might have. It tries to show how the expansion and intensification of olive cultivation in Andalusia, especially since the late 18th century, had as a consequence an acceleration of erosion processes that can be identified by several indicators and techniques. Experimental and model analysis indicates that the rate of soil erosion accelerated since the expansion of mechanization in the late 1950s. In addition, that unsustainable erosion rates have prevailed in the region since the shift to a more intense olive cultivation systems by the end of the 17th Century. Although agroenvironmental measures implemented since the early 2000s have reduced erosion rates, they are still unsustainably high in a large fraction of the olive area in the region. In the case of olive orchards located in steeper areas with soils of lower water-holding capacity (due to coarse texture and stone content), cumulative erosion has already had a high impact on reducing their potential productivity. This is one of the factors that contributes towards increasing the gap between these less intensified orchards in the mountainous areas and those in the hilly areas with more gentle slopes, such as for instance the lower stretches of the Guadalquivir River Valley. In the case of olive orchards in the hilly areas with better soils, easier access to irrigation and lower production costs per unit, the efforts on soil conservation should be oriented towards limiting off-site damage, since the soil water-storage function of these soils may be preserved in the medium term even at the current soil erosion rates. The assessment made in this manuscript should be regarded as an initial approximation, since additional efforts in terms of increasing experimental records (for current or historical erosion) and of improving model analysis, with more comprehensive studies and more robust calibration and validation processes, are required.
Abstract: The laser-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) method is a non-invasive remote sensing technique for measurement of photosynthetic performance of plants under laboratory and field conditions. We report here a long-term comparative study to monitor the performance of different cultivars of barley and sugar beet during the growth season of these crops. The LIFT measurements provided useful results about photosynthetic light use efficiency on selected leaves in the canopy of the studied crops. The different canopy architectures, with different optical properties, influenced the LIFT measurements.
Abstract: Breeding for Cercospora resistant sugar beet cultivars requires field experiments for testing resistance levels of candidate genotypes in conditions that are close to agricultural cultivation. Non-invasive spectral phenotyping methods can support and accelerate resistance rating and thereby speed up breeding process. In a case study, experimental field plots with strongly infected beet genotypes of different resistance levels were measured with two different spectrometers. Vegetation indices were calculated from measured wavelength signature to determine leaf physiological status, e.g., greenness with the Normalized Differenced Vegetation Index (NDVI), leaf water content with the Leaf Water Index (LWI) and Cercospora disease severity with the Cercospora Leaf Spot Index (CLSI). Indices values correlated significantly with visually scored disease severity, thus connecting the classical breeders’ scoring approach with advanced non-invasive technology.
Abstract: The aim of our study was to identify appropriate multiparametric fluorescence ratios to evaluate the response of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) genotypes to salinity. In this context, we hypothesized that the fluorescence indices BFRR_UV, FLAV, NBI and SFR provided by the multiparametric fluorescence technique reveal the impact of salinity on tomato leaves. For this purpose, the tomato genotypes H-2274, Harzfeuer and Rio Grande were grown in the greenhouse under standard or saline conditions. As reference measurements, we recorded the maximum photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) via pulse-amplitude-modulated (PAM) chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) and analyzed the concentrations of sodium (Na), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), proline and chlorophyll (Chl). In general, “Harzfeuer” showed a more pronounced response to salinity, as revealed by the increase in Na and proline as well as the decrease in K concentration. Significant differences between the control and the salt treatment were also assessed with Fv/Fm. The ratios BFRR_UV, FLAV, SFR_G and NBI_G increased significantly in the salinity-exposed plants. These ratios, compared with Fv/Fm, also provide precise but more rapid information about the impact of salinity on tomato leaves. On this basis, we demonstrate that the multiparametric fluorescence indices provide a valuable, rapid and practical tool for the in situ monitoring of the physiological status of plants exposed to salinity.