Effects of Abiotic Stresses and Their Control on Quality of Horticultural Products

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020) | Viewed by 28580

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Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia, 5, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: floriculture; ornamental plants; abiotic stresses; biodiversity; new crops, product quality; germination; light response
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Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano, Italy
Interests: agrometeorology; crop modelling; phenology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abiotic stresses can negatively affect the quality of horticultural crops. Their effects depend on the type of stress, its intensity, and the duration of the stressful condition. However, abiotic stresses’ active primary and secondary metabolisms accumulate different bioactive compounds, which may also enhance some of the quality parameters of horticulture products. This Special Issue intends to summarize the recent knowledge in agronomic management strategies to detect and reduce abiotic stress effects on horticultural crops. Particular attention is paid to the use of mild abiotic stresses in pre- and postharvest conditions for enhancing and preserving the quality of products.

The quality of horticultural products is the result of the interaction of different factors, including a grower’s crop management ability, genotypes, and the environment. In particular, adverse environmental conditions and hence abiotic stresses may greatly affect product quality. Abiotic stress, such as cold, heat, drought, flooding, salinity, nutrient deficiency, heavy metals, ozone, and ultraviolet radiation affect multiple physiological and biochemical mechanisms in plants and hence influence the characteristics of horticultural products. In this context, producers of horticultural crops are continually developing new, innovative agricultural practices with the aim of achieving more efficient and sustainable production for the early detection and counteraction of abiotic stress effects and the preservation of crop productivity.

This Special Issue has been planned to collect a wide spectrum of studies focused on the effects of abiotic stresses on horticulture production. Therefore, basic and applied research papers, and specific reviews on specific abiotic stress or crops, are welcome. Our wish is to provide an updated and qualified state of the art on this topic, which can represent a good source of information for ambitious research studies in the future.

Prof. Daniela Romano
Prof. Dr. Juan A. Fernández
Dr. Gabriele Cola
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • agronomic tools
  • plant metabolism
  • post-harvest
  • cold
  • heat
  • water stress
  • light stress
  • salinity

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 1481 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Combined Pre and Postharvest Deficit Irrigation on Loquat Yield, Fruit Quality and Handling Aptitude
by Juan J. Hueso, Francisca Alonso, María L. Cañete, Mónica González, Virginia Pinillos, Fernando M. Chiamolera and Julián Cuevas
Agronomy 2021, 11(2), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11020201 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1911
Abstract
Loquat prices depend on fruit size and earliness. Earliness is improved by postharvest deficit irrigation (DI), without negative effects on fruit size. An optimization of postharvest DI strategies carried out by limiting the dry period led to greater harvest date advancement, but water [...] Read more.
Loquat prices depend on fruit size and earliness. Earliness is improved by postharvest deficit irrigation (DI), without negative effects on fruit size. An optimization of postharvest DI strategies carried out by limiting the dry period led to greater harvest date advancement, but water savings were reduced. To further improve fruit earliness and quality and increase water savings, we combined pre and postharvest DI strategies. Treatments were T1: trees not irrigated during six weeks after harvest (no preharvest DI applied); T2: trees that, in addition to postharvest DI, were not watered from the rapid fruit growth phase to harvest (nine extra weeks of DI); T3: trees that, in addition to postharvest DI, were not watered from color break to harvest (six weeks of DI plus postharvest DI); and T4: trees that in addition to postharvest DI were not watered during rapid fruit growth, but were re-irrigated at color break (2–3 weeks of DI, depending on the season). Full-irrigated trees were grown for comparison. T1 saved 18% water with respect to full-irrigation, and advanced harvesting by 16 days. T2 saved more water, had an earlier harvest and produced a higher early yield. Shorter dry periods were beneficial to a lower extent. Fruit size was significantly diminished by T2, but not by T4. A major advantage of T3 and T4 was the better performance of fruit during handling and shelf life. T2 fruits were favored by panelists for their sweetness but criticized for their smaller size. Full article
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13 pages, 3305 KiB  
Article
Salinity Tolerance of Four Hardy Ferns from the Genus Dryopteris Adans. Grown under Different Light Conditions
by Piotr Salachna and Rafał Piechocki
Agronomy 2021, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010049 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3007
Abstract
Hardy ferns form a group of attractive garden perennials with an unknown response to abiotic stresses. The aim of this study was to evaluate the tolerance of three species of ferns of Dryopteris genus (D. affinis, D. atrata and D. filix-mas [...] Read more.
Hardy ferns form a group of attractive garden perennials with an unknown response to abiotic stresses. The aim of this study was to evaluate the tolerance of three species of ferns of Dryopteris genus (D. affinis, D. atrata and D. filix-mas) and one cultivar (D. filix-mas cv. “Linearis-Polydactylon”) to salinity and light stress. The plants were grown in full sun and shade and watered with 50 and 100 mM dm−3 NaCl solution. All taxa treated with 100 mM NaCl responded with reduced height, leaf greenness index and fresh weight of the above-ground part. In D. affinis and D. atrata salinity caused leaf damage manifested by necrotic spots, which was not observed in the other two taxa. The effect of NaCl depended on light treatments and individual taxon. D. affinis and D. atrata were more tolerant to salinity when growing under shade. Contrary to that, D. filix-mas cv. “Linearis-Polydactylon” seemed to show significantly greater tolerance to this stress under full sun. Salt-treated D. filix-mas cv. “Linearis-Polydactylon” plants accumulated enhanced amounts of K+ in the leaves, which might be associated with the taxon’s tolerance to salinity. Among the investigated genotypes, D. filix-mas cv. “Linearis-Polydactylon” seemed the most and D. affinis and D. atrata the least tolerant to salinity and light stress. Full article
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11 pages, 1281 KiB  
Article
The Comparison of Constant and Dynamic Red and Blue Light Irradiation Effects on Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
by Akvilė Viršilė, Jurga Miliauskienė, Perttu Juhani Haimi, Kristina Laužikė and Giedrė Samuolienė
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1802; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111802 - 17 Nov 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3112
Abstract
In this study, we sought to evaluate and compare the effects of constant and dynamic lighting on red and green leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. Red Cos and Lobjoits Green cos) cultivated in a controlled environment. Plants were illuminated with the combination [...] Read more.
In this study, we sought to evaluate and compare the effects of constant and dynamic lighting on red and green leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. Red Cos and Lobjoits Green cos) cultivated in a controlled environment. Plants were illuminated with the combination of red 662 and 638 nm, blue 452 nm, and far-red 737 nm at 16 h photoperiod and constant daily light integral (DLI) of each component. Five constant or dynamic lighting treatments were performed: (BR) constant flux of both B452 and R662; (B*R) constant flux of R662, but the DLI of B452 condensed in 8 h in the middle of photoperiod doubling the PPFD of blue light; (BR*) constant flux of B452, but the DLI of R662 light condensed in the middle of photoperiod; (BdynR) constant flux of R662, but the flux of B452 varies in the sinusoidal profile during 16 h photoperiod, imitating diurnal increase and decrease in lighting intensity; and (BRdyn) constant flux of B452, but the flux of R662 varies in sinusoidal profile. The lettuce’s response to dynamic lighting strategies was cultivar specific. Dynamic lighting strategies, mimicking natural lighting fluctuations, did not have a remarkable effect on photosynthesis and antioxidative parameters, but the dynamic flux of blue light component had a pronounced effect on higher macro and microelement contents in lettuce leaves. Full article
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24 pages, 2331 KiB  
Article
Alleviation of Salt Stress by Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria in Hydroponic Leaf Lettuce
by Alessandra Moncada, Filippo Vetrano and Alessandro Miceli
Agronomy 2020, 10(10), 1523; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10101523 - 6 Oct 2020
Cited by 41 | Viewed by 6058
Abstract
Mediterranean areas with intensive agriculture are characterized by high salinity of groundwater. The use of this water in hydroponic cultivations can lead to nutrient solutions with an electrical conductivity that overcomes the tolerance threshold of many vegetable species. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) were [...] Read more.
Mediterranean areas with intensive agriculture are characterized by high salinity of groundwater. The use of this water in hydroponic cultivations can lead to nutrient solutions with an electrical conductivity that overcomes the tolerance threshold of many vegetable species. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) were shown to minimize salt stress on several vegetable crops but the studies on the application of PGPR on leafy vegetables grown in hydroponics are rather limited and have not been used under salt stress conditions. This study aimed to evaluate the use of plant growth-promoting bacteria to increase the salt tolerance of leaf lettuce grown in autumn and spring in a floating system, by adding a bacterial biostimulant (1.5 g L−1 of TNC BactorrS13 a commercial biostimulant containing 1.3 × 108 CFU g−1 of Bacillus spp.) to mineral nutrient solutions (MNS) with two salinity levels (0 and 20 mM NaCl). Leaf lettuce plants showed a significant reduction of growth and yield under salt stress, determined by the reduction of biomass, leaf number, and leaf area. Plants showed to be more tolerant to salinity in autumn than in spring. The inhibition of lettuce plant growth due to salt stress was significantly alleviated by the addition of the bacterial biostimulant to the MNS, which had a positive effect on plant growth and fresh and dry biomass accumulation of the unstressed lettuce in both cultivation seasons, and maintained this positive effect in brackish MNS, with similar or even significantly higher values of morphologic, physiologic, and yield parameters than those recorded in control unstressed plants. Full article
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18 pages, 708 KiB  
Article
Physiological and Nutraceutical Quality of Green and Red Pigmented Lettuce in Response to NaCl Concentration in Two Successive Harvests
by Petronia Carillo, Maria Giordano, Giampaolo Raimondi, Francesco Napolitano, Emilio Di Stasio, Marios C. Kyriacou, Maria Isabella Sifola and Youssef Rouphael
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1358; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091358 - 10 Sep 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 2736
Abstract
Nutritional eustress such as salinity or nutrient stress applied in soilless systems, is a convenient pre-harvest factor efficient in modulating the phytochemical components of horticultural crops, by triggering defensive mechanisms and accumulating plant secondary metabolites in plants tissues. Nevertheless, genetic material (cultivars with [...] Read more.
Nutritional eustress such as salinity or nutrient stress applied in soilless systems, is a convenient pre-harvest factor efficient in modulating the phytochemical components of horticultural crops, by triggering defensive mechanisms and accumulating plant secondary metabolites in plants tissues. Nevertheless, genetic material (cultivars with different pigmentation) dictates lettuce metabolites and physiological response to extrinsic eustress, with red leaf cultivars being highly nutrient packed notwithstanding the stress. Product quality can be meliorated equally by applying several cuts, a practice proven to increase bioactive compounds accumulation. In this study, we analyzed the effects of four salinity levels (1, 10, 20 and 30 mM NaCl) on green and red pigmented Salad Bowl lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. acephala) in two successive harvests cultivated in a floating raft system. The morphological parameters, mineral composition, leaf gas exchanges, bioactive compounds, and antioxidant activity of both cultivars were assessed. The green cultivar exhibited superior crop productivity but was more prone to salinity effect than the red cultivar. Irrespective of cultivar and cut order, the net photosynthesis decreased with increasing salinity in the nutrient solution. The second cut incurred higher dry biomass, greater accumulation of most minerals and higher photosynthetic activity. In red lettuce, 20 mM NaCl proved adequate eustress to increase phytonutrients and beneficial minerals (K, Ca, and Mg) with minimal loss of yield. Mild salinity and sequential harvest have proven effective pre-harvest tools in positively modulating the quality of lettuce. Eustress interaction with genotype was demonstrated as a promising field for future breeding programs targeting select genotypes for agronomic application of eustress to improve the nutraceutical value of vegetable crops. Full article
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21 pages, 1581 KiB  
Article
Effects of Moderately-Reduced Water Supply and Picking Time on the Chemical Composition of Pickling Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) in Open Field Cultivation
by Christine Schlering, Ralf Schweiggert, Helmut Dietrich, Matthias Frisch and Jana Zinkernagel
Agronomy 2020, 10(8), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081097 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2520
Abstract
As climate change evokes changing precipitation patterns, the cultivation of vegetable crops in open fields might become more difficult in the future. Nowadays, many vegetable growers are already facing relatively long unprecedented precipitation-free periods. In many growing regions, irrigation is only available to [...] Read more.
As climate change evokes changing precipitation patterns, the cultivation of vegetable crops in open fields might become more difficult in the future. Nowadays, many vegetable growers are already facing relatively long unprecedented precipitation-free periods. In many growing regions, irrigation is only available to a limited extent or not at all, and the cultivated plants will suffer from moderate water stress more often. Therefore, we examined the effects of moderately-reduced water supply on the chemical composition of pickling cucumber, cultivated in an open field and in a separate greenhouse trial. In the field trial, the reduced water supply treatment (RWS) provided 85–90% of the total water amount of the well-watered control treatment (CTR), applying a randomized block design with six replications comprising two consecutive weekly harvest periods. In fruits obtained by cultivation with reduced irrigation, levels of malic acid, calcium, and magnesium significantly increased, while those of phosphate, phosphorous, nitrogen, and iron decreased based on dry matter. Fresh matter-related results additionally revealed a decrease of myo-inositol and zinc, while sugars and total phenols remained unchanged. In the greenhouse experiment, the RWS obtained 60% of the irrigation amount of the CTR. Here, single cucumber compartments (exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp) were examined. Chemical compositions changed in a similar, but more pronounced, manner as compared to the open field trial. The levels of individual, nutritionally relevant carotenoids in the peel of pickling cucumber, like lutein and β-carotene, were affected by RWS. Regarding the nutritional quality of fresh marketable cucumber fruits, malic acid, certain minerals and trace elements, as well as the carotenoids were shown to be sensitive to moderate water reduction. Full article
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21 pages, 1837 KiB  
Article
Effect of Soil Salinity and Foliar Application of Jasmonic Acid on Mineral Balance of Carrot Plants Tolerant and Sensitive to Salt Stress
by Sylwester Smoleń, Aneta Lukasiewicz, Magdalena Klimek-Chodacka and Rafal Baranski
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050659 - 7 May 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 4825
Abstract
The aim of the study is to determine the effects of soil salinity stress and foliar application of jasmonic acid (JA) on the mineral balance in plants of salt-sensitive doubled haploid carrot line (DH1) and salt-tolerant local DLBA variety (DLBA). Concentrations of 28 [...] Read more.
The aim of the study is to determine the effects of soil salinity stress and foliar application of jasmonic acid (JA) on the mineral balance in plants of salt-sensitive doubled haploid carrot line (DH1) and salt-tolerant local DLBA variety (DLBA). Concentrations of 28 elements were determined in roots and leaves and in the soil. The DcNHX4 gene (cation:proton exchange antiporter) expression was assessed. The salinity stress reduced the mass of roots and leaves more in DH1 than in DLBA. DLBA plants accumulated larger amounts of Na and Cl in the roots and had an increased transport of these elements to the leaves. The salt-tolerant and salt-sensitive carrot varieties differed in their ability to uptake and accumulate some elements, such as K, Mg, Zn, S, Cd, P and B, and this response was organ-specific. A selective uptake of K in the presence of high Na concentration was evident in the tolerant variety, and a high Na content in its leaves correlated with the expression of DcNHX4 gene, which was expressed in DLBA leaves only. JA application did not affect the growth of DLBA or DH1 plants. In the sensitive DH1 variety grown under salinity stress, JA induced changes in the mineral balance by limiting the uptake of the sum of all elements, especially Na and Cl, and by limiting Zn and Cd accumulation. Full article
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21 pages, 1428 KiB  
Article
Effects of Exogenous Spermidine on Root Metabolism of Cucumber Seedlings under Salt Stress by GC-MS
by Bing Liu, Xujian Peng, Lingjuan Han, Leiping Hou and Bin Li
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040459 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3465
Abstract
To investigate the effects of exogenous spermidine (Spd) on metabolism changes under salt stress in cucumber roots, a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was performed. The results showed that most of the 142 metabolites responded to salt stress or exogenous Spd treatment. Salt stress [...] Read more.
To investigate the effects of exogenous spermidine (Spd) on metabolism changes under salt stress in cucumber roots, a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was performed. The results showed that most of the 142 metabolites responded to salt stress or exogenous Spd treatment. Salt stress reduced carbon consumption, resulted in the transformation of glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle to the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), and meanwhile increased salicylic acid (SA) and ethylene synthesis, and, thus, inhibited the growth of seedlings. However, exogenous Spd further improved the utilization of carbon, the energy-saving pattern of amino acid accumulation, and the control of hydroxyl radicals. In conclusion, Spd could promote energy metabolism and inhibit SA and ethylene synthesis in favor of root growth that contributes to higher salt tolerance. This study provides insight that may facilitate a better understanding of the salt resistance by Spd in cucumber seedlings. Full article
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