Special Issue "Grafting as a Sustainable Means for Securing Yield Stability and Quality in Vegetable Crops"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marios Kyriacou
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Vegetable Crops, Agricultural Research Institute, 1516 Nicosia, Cyprus
Interests: postharvest physiology and technology of horticultural crops; functional quality of horticultural products; rootstock-mediated effects on vegetable fruit quality; horticultural valorization of indigenous genetic resources; postharvest quality in microgreens as modulated by preharvest factors; plant pigment biosynthesis and degradation during fruit ripening; carbohydrate metabolism and tuber dormancy
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
Prof. Dr. Youssef Rouphael
Website
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

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Vegetable growers around the world only collect on average half of the yield they would obtain under optimal conditions, known as yield potential. It is estimated that 60-70% of the yield gap is attributable to abiotic factors such as salinity, drought, suboptimal temperatures, nutritional deficiencies, flooding, waterlogging, heavy metals contamination, adverse soil pH and organic pollutants while the remaining 30-40% is due to biotic factors, especially soilborne pathogens, foliar pathogens, arthropods and weeds. Under climate change forecasts, the pressure of biotic/abiotic stressors on yield is expected to rise and challenge further global food security. To meet global demand several solutions have been proposed, focusing on the breeding of varieties with greater yield potential, but this one-size-fits-all solution leads to limited benefits. In order to overcome the current situation, grafting of elite scion varieties onto vigorous rootstock varieties has been suggested as one of the most promising drives towards further yield stability. Specifically, the implementation of suitable rootstock × scion × environment combinations in Solanaceous (tomato, eggplant, pepper) and Cucurbitaceous (melon, watermelon, melon) high-value crops represents an untapped opportunity to secure yield stability and reliability under biotic/abiotic stresses. This Special issue invites Original Research, Technology Report, Methods, Opinion, Perspectives and invited Reviews and Mini Reviews dissecting grafting as a sustainable agro technology for enhancing tolerance to abiotic stresses and reducing disease damage. Of interest are also potential contributions dealing with genetic resources for rootstock breeding, practices and technologies of rootstock breeding, rootstock-scion signaling as well as the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying graft compatibility. In addition, the effect of grafting on vegetable quality, practical applications and nursery management of grafted seedlings and specialty crops (e.g. artichoke and bean) will be considered within the general scope of the Special issue. We highly believe that this compilation of high standard scientific papers on principles and practices of vegetable grafting will foster discussions within this important field.

Dr. Marios Kyriacou
Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Colla
Prof. Dr. Youssef Rouphael
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. 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

  • breeding
  • rootstocks
  • abiotic/biotic stressors
  • fruit quality
  • physiological mechanism
  • bioactive content
  • compatibility
  • rootstock-scion interaction
  • hormonal signaling
  • nursery

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Appraisal of Salt Tolerance under Greenhouse Conditions of a Cucurbitaceae Genetic Repository of Potential Rootstocks and Scions
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 967; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070967 - 05 Jul 2020
Abstract
Soil salinization due to climate change and intensive use of water and soil is increasing exponentially. Cucurbitaceae species are cultivated worldwide and the identification of salinity tolerant genotypes to be used as rootstock or scion for securing yield stability in salt affected agricultural [...] Read more.
Soil salinization due to climate change and intensive use of water and soil is increasing exponentially. Cucurbitaceae species are cultivated worldwide and the identification of salinity tolerant genotypes to be used as rootstock or scion for securing yield stability in salt affected agricultural areas is a research priority. In the present greenhouse study, we assessed the response to salinity (0 mM a non-salt control and 150 mM NaCl dissolved in the nutrient solution) in the seedlings of 30 genotypes of cucurbits grown in a floating hydroponic system. The species tested included 16 genotypes of Cucumis melo L. (CM1-16), 6 Citrullus vulgaris Schrad. (CV1-6), 2 interspecific hybrids of Cucurbita maxima Duch. × Cucurbita moschata Duch. (CMM-R1 and 2), 4 bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. (LS1-4)), 1 Cucurbita moschata Duch. (CMO51-17), and 1 luffa (Luffa cylindrica Mill. (LC1)) species. Results highlighted different morphological and physiological traits between the species and genotypes and a different response to salt stress. We identified C. maxima × C.moscata interspecific hybrid CMM-R2, melon genotypes CM6, CM7, CM10, and CM16 together with watermelon genotypes CV2 and CV6 and bottle gourd LS4 as salt tolerant genotypes and possible candidates as salt resistant rootstock to be introduced in grafting programs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Rootstock and Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Combinatorial Effects on Eggplant Crop Performance and Fruit Quality under Greenhouse Conditions
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 693; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050693 - 13 May 2020
Abstract
The herbaceous grafting of fruiting vegetables is considered a toolbox for safeguarding yield stability under various distresses and for improving fruit quality. Inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungi seems also to be an efficient tool for increasing the assimilation, uptake and translocation of [...] Read more.
The herbaceous grafting of fruiting vegetables is considered a toolbox for safeguarding yield stability under various distresses and for improving fruit quality. Inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungi seems also to be an efficient tool for increasing the assimilation, uptake and translocation of macroelements and microelements, for modulating plant secondary metabolism and for overcoming several forms of plant distress. The present work evaluated the combined effect of grafting the “Birgah” (B) eggplant onto its wild/allied relatives’ rootstocks (Solanum torvum (T), S. macrocarpon (M) and S. paniculatum (P)) and AM fungi (R. irregularis) on the yield, fruit quality, nitrogen use efficiency, mineral profile, and nutritional and functional quality. The B/T, B/M and B/P grafting combinations significantly increased the marketable fruit and fruit number compared with those in the ungrafted control. Furthermore, irrespective of the grafting combinations, AM fungi significantly enhanced the marketable fruit, fruit number and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) by 13.3%, 12.7% and 13.3%, respectively compared to those in the untreated control. Exposing the B/T and B/P grafted plants to the +AM treatment significantly increased the ascorbic acid contents by 17.2% and 10.4%, respectively, compared with those in the ungrafted control. Fruits from the combination B/P × +AM had a higher chlorogenic acid content than fruits from the ungrafted control plots. Finally, the B/T × +AM and B/P × +AM combinations decreased glycoalkaloids by 58.7% and 63.7%, respectively, compared with those in the ungrafted control, which represents a highly important target for eggplant fruit healthiness. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conventional Industrial Robotics Applied to the Process of Tomato Grafting Using the Splicing Technique
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 880; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120880 - 12 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Horticultural grafting is routinely performed manually, demanding a high degree of concentration and requiring operators to withstand extreme humidity and temperature conditions. This article presents the results derived from adapting the splicing technique for tomato grafting, characterized by the coordinated work of two [...] Read more.
Horticultural grafting is routinely performed manually, demanding a high degree of concentration and requiring operators to withstand extreme humidity and temperature conditions. This article presents the results derived from adapting the splicing technique for tomato grafting, characterized by the coordinated work of two conventional anthropomorphic industrial robots with the support of low-cost passive auxiliary units for the transportation, handling, and conditioning of the seedlings. This work provides a new approach to improve the efficiency of tomato grafting. Six test rates were analyzed, which allowed the system to be evaluated across 900 grafted units, with gradual increases in the speed of robots work, operating from 80 grafts/hour to over 300 grafts/hour. The results obtained show that a higher number of grafts per hour than the number manually performed by skilled workers could be reached easily, with success rates of approximately 90% for working speeds around 210–240 grafts/hour. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Arsenic Accumulation in Grafted Melon Plants: Role of Rootstock in Modulating Root-To-Shoot Translocation and Physiological Response
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 828; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120828 - 01 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The bio-agronomical response, along with the arsenic (As) translocation and partitioning were investigated in self-grafted melon “Proteo”, or grafted onto three interspecific (“RS841”, “Shintoza”, and “Strong Tosa”) and two intraspecific hybrids (“Dinero” and “Magnus”). Plants were grown in a soilless system and exposed [...] Read more.
The bio-agronomical response, along with the arsenic (As) translocation and partitioning were investigated in self-grafted melon “Proteo”, or grafted onto three interspecific (“RS841”, “Shintoza”, and “Strong Tosa”) and two intraspecific hybrids (“Dinero” and “Magnus”). Plants were grown in a soilless system and exposed to two As concentrations in the nutrient solution (0.002 and 3.80 mg L−1, referred to as As− and As+) for 30 days. The As+ treatment lowered the aboveground dry biomass (−8%, on average), but the grafting combinations differed in terms of photosynthetic response. As regards the metalloid absorption, the rootstocks revealed a different tendency to uptake As into the root, where its concentration varied from 1633.57 to 369.10 mg kg−1 DW in “Magnus” and “RS841”, respectively. The high bioaccumulation factors in root (ranging from 97.13 to 429.89) and the low translocation factors in shoot (from 0.015 to 0.071) and pulp (from 0.002 to 0.008) under As+, showed a high As mobility in the substrate–plant system, and a lower mobility inside the plants. This tendency was higher in the intraspecific rootstocks. Nonetheless, the interspecific “RS841” proved to be the best rootstock in maximizing yield and minimizing, at the same time, the As concentration into the fruit. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Supplementary Light Intensity on Quality of Grafted Tomato Seedlings and Expression of Two Photosynthetic Genes and Proteins
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060339 - 25 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Lower quality and longer production periods of grafted seedlings, especially grafted plug seedlings of fruit vegetables, may result from insufficient amounts of light, particularly in rainy seasons and winter. Supplemental artificial lighting may be a feasible solution to such problems. This study was [...] Read more.
Lower quality and longer production periods of grafted seedlings, especially grafted plug seedlings of fruit vegetables, may result from insufficient amounts of light, particularly in rainy seasons and winter. Supplemental artificial lighting may be a feasible solution to such problems. This study was conducted to evaluate light intensity’s influence on the quality of grafted tomato seedlings, ‘Super Sunload’ and ‘Super Dotaerang’ were grafted onto the ‘B-Blocking’ rootstock. To improve their quality, grafted seedlings were moved to a glasshouse and grown for 10 days. The glasshouse had a combination of natural lighting from the sun and supplemental lighting from LEDs (W1R2B2) for 16 h/day. Light intensity of natural lighting was 490 μmol·m−2·s−1 photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and that of supplemental lighting was 50, 100, or 150 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD. The culture environment had 30/25 °C day/night temperatures, 70% ± 5% relative humidity (RH), and a natural photoperiod of 14 h as well. Compared with quality of seedlings in supplemental lighting of 50 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD, that of seedlings in supplement lighting of 100 or 150 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD improved significantly. With increasing light intensity, diameter, fresh weight, and dry weight, which were used to measure shoot growth, greatly improved. Leaf area, leaf thickness, and root biomass were also greater. However, for quality of seedlings, no significant differences were discovered between supplement lighting of 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD and supplement lighting of 150 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD. Expressions of PsaA and PsbA (two photosynthetic genes) as well as the corresponding proteins increased significantly in supplement lightning of 100 and 150 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD, especially in 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD. Overall, considering quality and expressions of two photosynthetic genes and proteins, supplemental light of 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 PPFD (W1R2B1) would be the best choice to cultivate grafted tomato seedlings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interactive Effects of Grafting Techniques and Scion-Rootstocks Combinations on Vegetative Growth, Yield and Quality of Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.)
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 288; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060288 - 05 Jun 2019
Abstract
The density of herbaceous crops creates a suitable environment to produce pathogens in the soil that intensify the attack of pathogens traditionally controlled by disinfectant, which are mostly prohibited and unlisted because of their toxicity. Grafting is an alternative technique to enhance abiotic [...] Read more.
The density of herbaceous crops creates a suitable environment to produce pathogens in the soil that intensify the attack of pathogens traditionally controlled by disinfectant, which are mostly prohibited and unlisted because of their toxicity. Grafting is an alternative technique to enhance abiotic stress tolerance and reduce root diseases due to soil-borne pathogens, thus enhancing crop production. This research study was conducted during the crop season of 2017 and 2018 in order to investigate the interactive effect of different grafting techniques of hybrid scion onto local rootstocks on plants survival, plant phenological growth, fruit yield and fruit quality under a controlled environment. The hybrid cucumber was also planted self-rooted. The cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) cv. Kalaam F1, Syngenta was grafted onto four local cucurbitaceous rootstocks; ridge gourd (Luffa operculate Cogn.), bitter gourd (Momordica charantia L.), pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.), bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl.) using splice grafting, tongue approach, single cotyledon and hole insertion grafting techniques and self-rooted hybrid cucumber under greenhouse conditions. The experimental results indicated that all local cucurbitaceous rootstocks showed a high compatibility with hybrid cucumber scion in the splice grafting method compared to other grafting and non-grafted methods. Lagenaria siceraria rootstocks were found highly compatible with cucumber cv Kalaam scion which gave significantly maximum plant survival rates (95%) due to high sap contents, high SPAD value, better vegetative growth and maximum fruit yield when compared with other rootstocks by employing the splice grafting method followed by tongue approach, single cotyledon and hole insertion grafting while the fruit quality of all rootstocks was observed to be similar. The non-grafted cucumber cv. Kalaam F1 showed significant results of plant vegetative growth, fruit development and fruit quality and encountered grafting methods while the lowest result were associated with the hole insertion grafting method in all scion/rootstock combinations. The grafted plants have no significant effect on cucumber fruit dry matter and fruit quality while the fruit mineral compositions (N, P, K, Ca and Mg) were higher among grafted and non-grafted plant fruits. The results indicate that grafting hybrid cucumber onto four local cucurbitaceous rootstocks influenced growth, yield and fruit quality. Grafting can be alternative and control measure for soil-borne disease and to enhance cucumber production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Solanum aethiopicum gr. gilo and Its Interspecific Hybrid with S. melongena as Alternative Rootstocks for Eggplant: Effects on Vigor, Yield, and Fruit Physicochemical Properties of Cultivar ′Scarlatti′
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 223; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050223 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Grafting is generally considered effective in ameliorating vegetable crop tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The use of interspecific hybrid as rootstock for eggplant may represent a valid alternative approach to enhance eggplant performance. However, studies on the effects of different rootstocks on [...] Read more.
Grafting is generally considered effective in ameliorating vegetable crop tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The use of interspecific hybrid as rootstock for eggplant may represent a valid alternative approach to enhance eggplant performance. However, studies on the effects of different rootstocks on eggplant plant vigor, yield, and fruit quality traits often show conflicting results. Thus, an experiment was performed in two spring–summer growing seasons (2014 and 2015) by grafting eggplant ′Scarlatti′ F1 hybrid on two accessions of S. aethiopicum gr. gilo and on the interspecific hybrid S. melongena × S. aehtiopicum gr. gilo in comparison to the most common eggplant rootstock S. torvum. Results indicate that S. melongena × S. aethiopicum gr. gilo interspecific hybrid and S. torvum improved grafting success, plant vigor, early flowering and yield in ′Scarlatti′ F1 scion. All rootstocks tested did not negatively influence fruit apparent quality traits and fruit quality composition. Moreover, fruit glycoalkaloids content remained below the recommended threshold value. These findings suggest that the use of S. melongena × S. aethiopicum gr. gilo interspecific hybrid as rootstock may be a good alternative to the most commonly used S. torvum. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combined Influence of Cutting Angle and Diameter Differences between Seedlings on the Grafting Success of Tomato Using the Splicing Technique
Agronomy 2019, 9(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9010005 - 21 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Herbaceous crop yield intensification creates favourable conditions for the development of pests that intensify the attack of soil pathogens traditionally controlled by disinfectant, which are mostly prohibited and unlisted because of their toxicity. The use of grafted plants solves this problem and assists [...] Read more.
Herbaceous crop yield intensification creates favourable conditions for the development of pests that intensify the attack of soil pathogens traditionally controlled by disinfectant, which are mostly prohibited and unlisted because of their toxicity. The use of grafted plants solves this problem and assists in addressing abiotic stress conditions. Within Solanaceae, specifically tomato crops (Solanum lycopersicum), the use of the splicing technique (simple and easily automated) is of special interest. This experiment attempts to present the combined influence of cutting angle and different random diameters on grafting success with the objective of detecting an optimum working range that will be applicable to automated and robotic grafting systems. An increase in the grafting angle is associated with a higher survival of grafted plants despite variations in diameter. Moreover, a threshold cutting angle is observed from which the success rate no longer increases but decreases drastically. Therefore, for a given working range with a significant cutting angle, whether the seedlings of origin are similar in diameter is not important, and this factor is more influential outside the optimal cutting angle range. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Augmenting the Sustainability of Vegetable Cropping Systems by Configuring Rootstock-Dependent Rhizomicrobiomes that Support Plant Protection
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1185; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081185 - 13 Aug 2020
Abstract
Herbaceous grafting is a propagation method largely used in solanaceous and cucurbit crops for enhancing their agronomic performances especially under (a)biotic stress conditions. Besides these grafting-mediated benefits, recent advances about microbial networking in the soil/root interface, indicated further grafting potentialities to act as [...] Read more.
Herbaceous grafting is a propagation method largely used in solanaceous and cucurbit crops for enhancing their agronomic performances especially under (a)biotic stress conditions. Besides these grafting-mediated benefits, recent advances about microbial networking in the soil/root interface, indicated further grafting potentialities to act as soil environment conditioner by modulating microbial communities in the rhizosphere. By selecting a suitable rootstock, grafting can modify the way of interacting root system with the soil environment regulating the plant ecological functions able to moderate soilborne pathogen populations and to decrease the risk of diseases. Genetic resistance(s) to soilborne pathogen(s), root-mediate recruiting of microbial antagonists and exudation of antifungal molecules in the rhizosphere are some defense mechanisms that grafted plants may upgrade, making the cultivation less prone to the use of synthetic fungicides and therefore more sustainable. In the current review, new perspectives offered by the available literature concerning the potential benefits of grafting, in enhancing soilborne disease resistance through modulation of indigenous suppressive microbial communities are presented and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Grafting Tomato as a Tool to Improve Salt Tolerance
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020263 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Salinity in soil or water is a serious threat to global agriculture; the expected acreage affected by salinity is about 20% of the global irrigated lands. Improving salt tolerance of plants through breeding is a complex undertaking due to the number of traits [...] Read more.
Salinity in soil or water is a serious threat to global agriculture; the expected acreage affected by salinity is about 20% of the global irrigated lands. Improving salt tolerance of plants through breeding is a complex undertaking due to the number of traits involved. Grafting, a surgical mean of joining a scion and rootstock of two different genotypes with the desired traits, offers an alternative to breeding and biotechnological approaches to salt tolerance. Grafting can also be used to circumvent other biotic and abiotic stresses. Increasing salinity tolerance in tomato (Solanum lycopresicum L.), a highly nutritious and economical vegetable, will have greater impact on the vegetable industry, especially in (semi) arid regions where salinity in soil and water are more prevalent. Besides, plants also experience salt stress when water in hydroponic system is recycled for tomato production. Grafting high yielding but salt-susceptible tomato cultivars onto salt-resistant/tolerant rootstocks is a sustainable strategy to overcome saline stress. Selection of salt-tolerant rootstocks though screening of available commercial and wild relatives of tomato under salt stress conditions is a pre-requisite for grafting. The positive response of grafting exerted by tolerant rootstocks or scion-rootstock interactions on yield and fruit characteristics of tomato under saline conditions is attributed to several physiological and biochemical changes. In this review, the importance of tomato grafting, strategies to select appropriate rootstocks, scion-rootstock interaction for growth, yield and quality characteristics, as well as the tolerance mechanisms that (grafted) plants deploy to circumvent or minimize the effects of salt stress in root zones are discussed. The future challenges of grafting tomato are also highlighted. Full article
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