Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Crop Production".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2023) | Viewed by 8007

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis, National Research Council, 85050 Tito Scalo, Italy
Interests: biochemistry; biosensors; phenolics; antioxidant and enzymatic properties; spices; analytical chemistry

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Guest Editor
Department of European and Mediterranean Cultures, Architecture, Environment and Cultural Heritage (DiCEM), University of Basilicata, Via Lanera, 20, 75100 Matera, Italy
Interests: agricultural and environmental chemistry; environmental botany; soil ecology
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recently, many studies have been focused on safeguarding the natural capital that forms the basis of our economies. Especially in times of emergency, such as the pandemic that we are experiencing, blocks or slowdowns in the free circulation of wares could be created, making the distribution or supply of food difficult.

It is known that agrobiodiversity plays a crucial role in human systems as it is closely interconnected with the production of food and energy, the protection and security of water supplies and the defense of health. It is important to keep in mind that the impact of climate change on biodiversity also has an important impact on our existence.

Safeguarding biodiversity in a climate change scenario represents a strategic challenge for the future achievement of sustainable economic development and consequently for the survival of our species.

The agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean crops has played an important role in the evolution of agriculture in the Western world, and its typical climate is characterized by mild and humid winters, with limited rainfall, and hot, dry summers, similar to that found in some areas of California, Chile or Australia.

Therefore, unless Mediterranean crops are irrigated or greenhouse-grown, they must be sown in autumn and harvested in early summer, or be able to withstand drought. The importance of the impact of future climate change on the biodiversity of Mediterranean crops is implicit as well as the consequent impact on our existence.

This Special Issue aims to address the main scientific evidence and the best strategies for safeguarding agrobiodiversity (plant and animal biodiversity, aquatic systems, but also ecosystem services), highlighting, in particular, their economic, social and health impacts, as well as the strategies necessary to cope best with climate change, especially as it concerns the Mediterranean area.

Original research and review papers are welcome. Papers chosen for publication will be selected by a rigorous peer-review procedure with the aim of rapid dissemination of the research results.

Key topics in this Special Issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Biodiversity of Mediterranean crops (MC);
  • Sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Breeding, germplasm conservation and cryopreservation;
  • Biological activity (enzymatic, antioxidant, microbiological, nutraceutical, for instance) of MC;
  • Secondary metabolites;
  • Officinal plants of the Mediterranean area;
  • Effect of climate changes on the biodiversity of MC;
  • Innovative technologies.

Dr. Nunzia Cicco
Prof. Dr. Adriano Sofo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Mediterranean crops
  • biodiversity
  • sustainability
  • antioxidants
  • nutraceutics
  • phenolics
  • climate change
  • soil
  • drought
  • innovation

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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14 pages, 1715 KiB  
Article
Antioxidant Activity, Total Phenolic Content and Morphological Traits in 1 to 4-Year-Old Muscari comosum Bulbs Cultivated in Three Growing Environments
by Nunzia Cicco, Donato Castronuovo and Vincenzo Candido
Agriculture 2024, 14(2), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14020178 - 24 Jan 2024
Viewed by 610
Abstract
Muscari comosum, commonly called “Lampascione”, is an edible wild plant that grows predominantly in the Mediterranean area. In this study, qualitative characteristics (size and antioxidant properties) were investigated in “Lampascione” bulbs of different ages cultivated in three different growing environments (greenhouse, shaded [...] Read more.
Muscari comosum, commonly called “Lampascione”, is an edible wild plant that grows predominantly in the Mediterranean area. In this study, qualitative characteristics (size and antioxidant properties) were investigated in “Lampascione” bulbs of different ages cultivated in three different growing environments (greenhouse, shaded greenhouse and open field). The 4-year-old bulbs grown in a greenhouse showed the best shape index. The highest total phenolic content was observed in seed bulbs for all the growing environments. The antioxidant activity expressed in terms of EC50 average value had a fluctuating trend. However, the best antioxidant activity was found in bulbs cultivated in open fields and in the 4-year-olds grown in the greenhouse. Therefore, all these bulbs have a high antioxidant activity and can be considered as a very good nutraceutical source useful to consumers, as well as in the pharmaceutical sector, who are more and more interested in having products for a healthy and natural diet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops)
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21 pages, 2897 KiB  
Article
Evaluation and Structuring of Agrodiversity in Oases Agroecosystems of Southern Morocco
by Mhammad Houssni, Jalal Kassout, Mohamed El Mahroussi, Soufian Chakkour, Mohamed Kadiri, Mohammed Ater and Alexandru-Ionut Petrisor
Agriculture 2023, 13(7), 1413; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13071413 - 17 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1375
Abstract
Oases play a crucial role in human societies and the conservation of biodiversity, especially in harsh environments like arid zones. They serve as sanctuaries for agrodiversity, preserving diverse agricultural resources under challenging climatic conditions. However, these agroecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate [...] Read more.
Oases play a crucial role in human societies and the conservation of biodiversity, especially in harsh environments like arid zones. They serve as sanctuaries for agrodiversity, preserving diverse agricultural resources under challenging climatic conditions. However, these agroecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate fluctuations, droughts, and other environmental changes. Understanding these unique agroecosystems is essential for developing effective strategies to protect them. Agrodiversity serves as a key indicator of the overall health of traditional agroecosystems. To assess the richness and diversity of agrodiversity, field surveys were conducted in six representative oases in southern Morocco. Within each oasis, we interviewed 20 farmers in five ksour. Our findings confirm the widespread practice of polyculture and reveal significant diversity among the oases. A total of 55 crops were identified, consisting of 183 varieties. Specifically, the oasis of Tata employed 42 crops, Alnif had 41 crops, Guelmim had 38 crops, Aoufouss had 32 crops, Rich had 29 crops, and Zagora had 28 crops. The profiles of varieties clearly distinguish between ksour and oases, highlighting the unique identities of each oasis. The modernization of farming practices is influenced by factors such as farm size, plot fragmentation, dispersal, and irrigation methods. However, its consequences are concerning. There is a risk of losing agrodiversity and compromising the food security of local populations. The shift from household consumption crops to cash crops has negative implications for the availability of diverse and nutritious food. Moreover, modernization often leads to increased water consumption, further straining the already limited water resources in these oases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops)
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15 pages, 1448 KiB  
Article
Distribution of Genetic Diversity in Beta patula Aiton Populations from Madeira Archipelago, Portugal
by Carla Ragonezi, Humberto Nóbrega, Maria Inês Leite, José G. R. de Freitas, Fabrício Lopes Macedo and Miguel Â. A. Pinheiro de Carvalho
Agriculture 2023, 13(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture13010027 - 22 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1302
Abstract
Beta patula Aiton is a crop wild relative (CWR) which belongs to the Gene Pool 1b and is considered a Critically Endangered species, and is present in very specific environments, such as the Desembarcadouro islet (DI) in Ponta de São Lourenço or Chão [...] Read more.
Beta patula Aiton is a crop wild relative (CWR) which belongs to the Gene Pool 1b and is considered a Critically Endangered species, and is present in very specific environments, such as the Desembarcadouro islet (DI) in Ponta de São Lourenço or Chão islet (CI) in the Desertas Islands. The ISOPlexis Center (University of Madeira) has been providing continuous support for its in situ conservation by keeping a management plan of wild populations and an ex situ conservation strategy through the storage of accessions in the ISOPlexis GeneBank. The present work intends to present the spatial distribution of genetic variability and diversity in these B. patula populations using eight polymorphic Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. The overall results lead to the identification of three spots with a high genetic diversity. CI with a small cluster of individuals shows a genetic footprint different from DI, having unique alleles present in its population. DI has two distinct areas: the western area, with a higher individual density but with a lower genetic diversity and higher allele fixation; and the central area, with a lower individual count but with a higher genetic diversity and with the presence of unique alleles. Despite some genetic differences, the comparison of the two islets’ DI and CI populations shows that they have more similarities than differences. Analysis of the Molecular Variance, based on the hierarchical cluster, showed a 9% diversity between populations, 68% among individuals, and 23% within individuals. This data will be used for the establishment of a protocol to monitor and manage B. patula genetic diversity under a genetic reserve, subsequently contributing to the European Genetic Reserve network implementation and the protection of this important CWR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops)
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20 pages, 4447 KiB  
Article
Crocus sativus (L.) Grown in Pots with High Volume Capacity: From a Case of Study to a Patent
by Nunzia Cicco
Agriculture 2022, 12(11), 1813; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12111813 - 31 Oct 2022
Viewed by 1676
Abstract
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) cultivation is widespread in different parts of the world, including various Mediterranean areas. The crop management techniques, requiring intensive manual labor from planting, weeding, flower picking to the collecting of stigmas, contribute greatly to the high price of [...] Read more.
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) cultivation is widespread in different parts of the world, including various Mediterranean areas. The crop management techniques, requiring intensive manual labor from planting, weeding, flower picking to the collecting of stigmas, contribute greatly to the high price of the spice. Traditionally, the corms are cultivated in field soil and only stigmas are collected to obtain the spice while the flower’s remaining parts, corresponding to about 90% of the total biomass, are discarded and thrown away. In this study, in order to overcome some difficulties occurring during the whole crop cycle (pathogens, fungi, pests, weeds, etc.), as well as to ease and increase floral bioresidue recovery, an alternative planting way for Crocus sativus L. was proposed relying on the use of large pots. For this aim, corms with 3.0–3.5 cm diameter size, from two different geographical origins (Spain, Holland), were planted in plastic pots with a volume of 250 L or 350 L, placed in two different areas of the Basilicata region (Italy). The effect of this new growing condition on dry stigma yield as well as daughter corm yield and size was evaluated. Although this cultivation system is more expensive than the traditional one, it offers numerous and huge advantages. Among them, it allows us to maintain a more correct posture and to preserve flower integrity during harvesting. The structural integrity of the tepals is a very important factor to obtain innovative dried flowers in their original tridimensional shape (3D). Consequently, the proposed cultivation system facilitates the achievement of a real “niche product” with high added value (absence of pollen grains). Moreover, the qualitative analysis of the spice, performed according to the International Standardization Organization Normative 3632 (ISO 3632-2/1:2010/2011), classified all investigated saffron samples in the first qualitative category. The results of the first three trial years are very exciting and promising as they are similar to those from the literature carried out in ground soil. However, corms from Spain gave the best results. Further investigations are in progress in order to optimize this alternative cultivation system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops)
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Review

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15 pages, 2030 KiB  
Review
The Importance of Lentils: An Overview
by Vicente Montejano-Ramírez and Eduardo Valencia-Cantero
Agriculture 2024, 14(1), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture14010103 - 07 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1604
Abstract
The legume family includes approximately 19,300 species across three large subfamilies, of which Papilionoideae stands out with 13,800 species. Lentils were one of the first crops to be domesticated by humans, approximately 11,000 BP. They are diploid legumes that belong to the Papilionoidea [...] Read more.
The legume family includes approximately 19,300 species across three large subfamilies, of which Papilionoideae stands out with 13,800 species. Lentils were one of the first crops to be domesticated by humans, approximately 11,000 BP. They are diploid legumes that belong to the Papilionoidea subfamily and are of agricultural importance because of their resistance to drought and the fact that they grow in soil with a pH range of 5.5–9; therefore, they are cultivated in various types of soil, and so they have an important role in sustainable food and feed systems in many countries. In addition to their agricultural importance, lentils are a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are key to human nutrition since they are an alternative to animal proteins, decreasing meat consumption. Another characteristic of legumes, including lentils, is their ability to form nodules, which gives them a growth advantage in nitrogen-deficient soils because they enable the plant to fix atmospheric nitrogen, thus contributing nitrogen to the soil and facilitating the nutrition of other plants during intercropping. Lentils have also been applied for protection against various human diseases, as well as for phytoremediation, and they also have been applied as environmental bioindicators to identify cytotoxicity. This review addresses the importance of lentils in agriculture and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean Crops)
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