Special Issue "Biostimulants as Physiological Modulators of Crop Performance and Product Quality"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Horticultural and Floricultural Crops".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Youssef Rouphael
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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples, Federico II, Portici, Italy
Interests: greenhouse crops; vegetables production; hydroponics and aquaponics; plant nutrition; microgreens; sprouts; edible flowers; functional foods, grafting; microbial and non-microbial biostimulants; biofortification; vegetable quality related to preharvest factors; LED; urban agriculture; organic farming
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Colla
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture and Forest Sciences, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
Interests: microgreens; sprouts; functional food; crop production; plant nutrition; fertilizers; organic farming; organic agriculture; nutrient management; biofertilizers; vegetable production; fruit quality; fertigation; hydroponics; vegetable crops; biofortification
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world’s horticultural systems face a great balancing act between two needs, on one side to raise the supply of food produced on the available farmland, since the global population will increase to more than 10 billion by 2050, and on the other side to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment and human health. Meeting these two targets presents a major sustainability challenge to scientists and producers, which might be fostered by using natural products known as plant biostimulants. A plant biostimulant has recently been defined in the regulations (EU) 2019/1009 of the European Parliament and Council (EC) as an “EU fertilising product able to stimulate plant nutrition processes independently of the product’s nutrient content with the sole aim of improving one or more of the following characteristics of the plant or the plant rhizosphere: 1) nutrient use efficiency, 2) tolerance to abiotic stress, 3) quality traits, or 4) availability of confined nutrients in the soil or rhizosphere”. Plant biostimulants, by this definition, include several substances with bioactive properties: seaweed and plant extracts, humic and fulvic acids, protein hydrolysates and silicon, as well as some-plant growth-promoting microorganisms: mycorrhizal fungi and plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria.

Following the huge success of the first Special Issue, “Toward a Sustainable Agriculture Through Plant Biostimulants: From Experimental Data to Practical Applications”, we have decided to launch a second Special Issue entitled “Biostimulants as Physiological Modulators of Crop Performance and Product Quality”. This Special Issue invites original research, technology report, methods, opinion, perspectives, and invited reviews and mini reviews dissecting the biostimulation action of these natural compounds and substances and beneficial microorganisms on crops grown under optimal and suboptimal growing conditions (e.g., salinity, drought, nutrient deficiency and toxicity, heavy metal contaminations, waterlogging, and adverse soil pH conditions). Also of interest are potential contributions dealing with the effect as well as the molecular and physiological mechanisms of plant biostimulants on nutrient efficiency, product quality, post-harvest, and the modulation of the microbial population quantitatively and qualitatively. In addition, identification and understanding of the optimal method, time, rate of application, and phenological stage for improving plant performance and resilience to stress as well as the best plant species/cultivar × environment × management practices combinations will be considered within the general scope of the Special Issue. We strongly believe that this compilation of high-standard scientific papers on principles and practices of plant biostimulants will foster knowledge transfer among scientific communities, industries, and agronomists and will enable a better understanding of the mode of action and application procedure of biostimulants in different cropping systems.

Prof. Youssef Rouphael
Prof. Giuseppe Colla
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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. Agronomy 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 1600 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

  • humic acids
  • microbial inoculants
  • PGPR
  • nitrogen-fixing bacteria
  • mycorrhizal fungi
  • microbiome
  • protein hydrolysate
  • silicon
  • physiological and molecular mechanisms
  • seaweed extracts
  • microalgae
  • functional biostimulants
  • agronomical and horticultural crops
  • abiotic stressors
  • NUE
  • post-harvest

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Impact of New Micro Carbon Technology Based Fertilizers on Growth, Nutrient Efficiency and Root Cell Morphology of Capsicum annuum L.
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081165 - 08 Aug 2020
Abstract
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of new Micro Carbon Technology (MCT®) fertilizers based on humic acids biologically digested on the growth and development of pepper plants. In this work, the biostimulant effect of MCT® fertilizers [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to determine the effects of new Micro Carbon Technology (MCT®) fertilizers based on humic acids biologically digested on the growth and development of pepper plants. In this work, the biostimulant effect of MCT® fertilizers was compared to conventional mineral fertilizers. In order to evaluate MCT® fertilizers, a previous chemical characterization (infrared spectroscopy, liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry) of seven MCT® fertilizers was performed. Two fertilization tests of pepper plants were carried out in hydroponic conditions, where the fertilization and the age of the plants were studied in order to evaluate the specific effects on roots and leaves. Plant weight and foliar analysis (chlorophyll indices and nutrients) have been determined. Transmission electron microscopy was used to visualize the morphological differences in the root and leaf cells. Comparison between conventional and MCT® based fertilizers showed that, with the MCT® fertilizers, the plant is exposed to the presence of free amino acids (Glycine and Alanine), polyphenols and humic substances. Although no significant differences were found in plant mass production, the plants fertilized with MCT® products presented better nutritional status than plants treated with conventional fertilization in terms of nutrient content in leaves. Important morphological differences in root cells were found. A large central vacuole that represented the 68–83% of the total root cell area was shown if the MCT® products were used, suggesting significant changes of membrane permeability in terms of water adsorption and consequently nutrient storage. The morphological differences observed in the root cells were more noticeable in adult plants. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Reduced Nitrogen and Supplemented Amino Acids Nutrient Solution on the Nutritional Quality of Baby Green and Red Lettuce Grown in a Floating System
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 922; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070922 - 27 Jun 2020
Abstract
Excessive nitrogen fertilization results in nitrate accumulation in leafy vegetables. Reducing the dose of mineral nitrogen or using alternate fertilizers lowers the nitrate accumulation; however, a critical minimum level of mineral nitrogen is necessary to maintain yield and nutritional quality. The aim of [...] Read more.
Excessive nitrogen fertilization results in nitrate accumulation in leafy vegetables. Reducing the dose of mineral nitrogen or using alternate fertilizers lowers the nitrate accumulation; however, a critical minimum level of mineral nitrogen is necessary to maintain yield and nutritional quality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of two levels of mineral nitrogen (100% and 50%) and three levels of an amino acid solution (0, 0.3, and 0.9%) in the nutrient solution of two baby lettuce cultivars (green and red) grown in a floating system. Nitrogen reduction did not affect yield (12.9–13.4 and 11.0–11.3 g/plant, respectively) but reduced nitrate accumulation (by 43 and 19%, respectively) in both green and red lettuce, while enhancing phenolic content (by 28%) and antioxidant capacity (by 69%) in green lettuce and soluble solid (by 7%) and total chlorophyll content (by 9%) in red lettuce. Although nitrate accumulation was prevented (< 355 mg/kg FW) and most nutritional components increased in both lettuce types by amino acids supplementation, plant growth was negatively affected, especially in red lettuce, in both concentrations of amino acids (reduction by 9 and 35% in 0.3 and 0.9%, respectively). In both lettuce types, proline content increased by 0.9% amino acids supplementation (by 45%), implying a probable induction of a stress condition. Mineral nutrients were slightly affected by nitrogen reduction, which was probably perceived as an abiotic stress. Full article
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