Special Issue "Germplasm Exploitation and Product Innovation of Vegetable, Aromatic and Medicinal Plants"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 December 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Ferdinando Branca
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Agricoltura, Alimentazione e Ambiente (Di3A),University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia 5, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: vegetable, aromatic, and medicinal plant diversity; crop domestication and evolution; agronomic, organoleptic, nutraceutical, and technological traits; miRNAs; healthy and super foods.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The domestication and crop evolution have occurred for several species, but until now, not all the agro-biodiversity available has been well exploited and utilized. In addition, a great contribution could be offered by several landraces and crop wild relatives that to date have grown in several traditional agrosystems and/or conserved in several genebanks around the world. So far, there is a long list of neglected and/or underutilized species of interest for innovating and for improving vegetables and aromatic and medicinal product. The climate change constraints and the new requests of consumers for healthy foods and of growers for resilient, efficient, and sustainable new cultivars and crops have encouraged several research groups to characterize and to evaluate the collected germplasm for their agronomic, organoleptic, nutraceutical, technological, and genetic traits.

The proposed Special Issue would like to point the attention to the ongoing research activities dealing with the germplasm exploitation of traditional, neglected and underutilized species for innovative vegetable, aromatic, and medicinal food supply chains.

Dr. Ferdinando Branca
Guest Editor

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

  • vegetable, aromatic, and medicinal plant innovation
  • crop domestication and evolution
  • agronomic, organoleptic, nutraceutical, and technological traits
  • miRNAs
  • healthy and super foods

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Morphological Traits and Phenolic Compounds in Tunisian Wild Populations and Cultivated Varieties of Portulaca oleracea L.
Agronomy 2020, 10(7), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10070948 - 01 Jul 2020
Abstract
This study aims to evaluate the bio-morphological and biochemical variability of three Tunisian wild populations and one growing cultivar of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.). The studied varieties should be easily distinguished by the color and the habitus of the plant as mentioned [...] Read more.
This study aims to evaluate the bio-morphological and biochemical variability of three Tunisian wild populations and one growing cultivar of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.). The studied varieties should be easily distinguished by the color and the habitus of the plant as mentioned in literature, but the various analyses have shown a strong morphological heterogeneity within and among the wild and cultivated accessions as presented by the variance analysis test (ANOVA) and the PCA (Principal component analysis). We found high intrapopulation variability through the wild populations that make it hard to differentiate them only on the base of morphology. We analyzed the biochemical profile of those populations based on the analysis of freeze-dried samples of leaves and stems. We identified and quantified twelve different phenolic compounds by the HPLC-diode array detector (DAD) technique. Six phenolic acids and flavonoids were identified in the leaves and stems of the wild and cultivated populations. Sinapic acid and myricetin are the majors identified compounds through our samples. The results were significantly different in relation to the plant organs and to the geographic origin for most of the compounds. The obtained results highlighted the importance of Portulaca as a medicinal plant by showing its richness in phenols and flavonoids that have multi-medicinal effects besides their antioxidant power. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Volatile Profile of Wall Rocket Baby-Leaves (Diplotaxis erucoides) Grown under Greenhouse: Main Compounds and Genotype Diversity
Agronomy 2020, 10(6), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060802 - 05 Jun 2020
Abstract
Wall rocket is a leafy vegetable with pungent flavor related to the presence of isothiocyanates (ITCs). Despite interest in it as a crop of high organoleptic quality, the variability of the volatile profile in the species remains unknown. Twenty-four populations grown under a [...] Read more.
Wall rocket is a leafy vegetable with pungent flavor related to the presence of isothiocyanates (ITCs). Despite interest in it as a crop of high organoleptic quality, the variability of the volatile profile in the species remains unknown. Twenty-four populations grown under a greenhouse were evaluated. A considerable diversity for the total levels of volatiles was found, providing information of the aroma intensity among accessions. ITCs represented the main fraction. Allyl ITC was the main compound, and levels showed up to 6-fold difference among populations. The esters fraction was mainly represented by cis-3-hexenyl isovalerate and cis-3-hexenyl butyrate, with 20-fold differences among populations. Additionally, the content in sinigrin was evaluated as main GSL in wall rocket. Differences reached up to 13-fold. These results suggest that some populations can be used to develop highly pungent varieties, whereas some others can be selected for mild-pungent varieties, as it is the case of DER045 with low levels of ITCs and high in esters. The presence of several ITCs in the profile also suggested the presence of other novel GSLs. Overall, the work increases the knowledge in the variability of wall rocket for the volatile profile and sinigrin accumulation, a starting point for future breeding programs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Morphological Diversity and Bioactive Compounds in Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides (L.) DC.)
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 306; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020306 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Wall rocket is a wild vegetable with interest to become a crop. However, the information regarding morphological variability in the species is scarce, despite the interest it has received for breeding programs. In addition, evaluating the phytochemical composition can also be useful for [...] Read more.
Wall rocket is a wild vegetable with interest to become a crop. However, the information regarding morphological variability in the species is scarce, despite the interest it has received for breeding programs. In addition, evaluating the phytochemical composition can also be useful for developing materials of a high quality. In this study, forty-four populations were evaluated for selected morphoagronomic traits and contents in ascorbic acid (AA), total phenolics (TP), and nitrates (NO3). Wall rocket plants had, on average, an intermediate growth habit and a good response to transplant. Moderate variability, mainly for size-related traits, was found, with low to moderate heritability estimates (H2 < 0.35). A Principal Component Analysis revealed that some materials may be selected for differenced traits. On the other hand, wall rocket materials had, on average, high contents in AA (53 mg 100 g−1) and TP (116 mg CAE 100 g−1) but also accumulated high levels of NO3 (891 mg 100 g−1). Significant positive correlations were found for AA and TP, which could be exploited for increasing the antioxidant activity and properties of the final product. We provide new information on the variation of wall rocket for traits of morphological and phytochemical interest, which together with other traits, such as the profile of glucosinolates, can be useful for the selection of materials in future breeding programs. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Effect of Agronomic Practices on Yield and Quality of Borage at Harvest and During Storage as Minimally-Processed Produce
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020242 - 06 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Borage (Borago officinalis L.) is a hairy pubescent herb known throughout the world for its folk medicinal uses, as well as for many culinary uses. There is still little information on the cultivation needs of this species, especially for its use as [...] Read more.
Borage (Borago officinalis L.) is a hairy pubescent herb known throughout the world for its folk medicinal uses, as well as for many culinary uses. There is still little information on the cultivation needs of this species, especially for its use as vegetable crop and as fresh-cut produce. Hence, the aim of the research was to study the effects of agronomic practices on yield and quality of borage and on the storability as minimally-processed product. Two experiments were carried out in two consecutive years in order to evaluate the effect of plant density and plastic mulching on yield and quality of two borage accessions at harvest and during storage as minimally-processed produce for 14 days at 4 °C. The highest plant density (8 plants m2) determined the highest yield of plants and minimally-processed leaves with good quality retention during storage. Mulching had a positive effect on earliness, yield, and shelf life of minimally-processed leaves but also increased nitrate accumulation and reduced ascorbic acid content. Borage plants with lower spacing grown on mulched soil showed the best yield of plants and minimally-processed leaves irrespective of the borage accession tested. Borage plants can be used to produce minimally-processed entire leaves with good quality characteristics. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessBrief Report
Characterization of Flowering Time and Pollen Production in Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) towards a Strategy for the Selection of Elite Male Genotypes
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 592; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040592 - 22 Apr 2020
Abstract
The seeds of the dioecious shrub jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider) yield a liquid wax that is in high demand for the cosmetics industry. While elite female cultivars of this species are currently clonally propagated, male plants are grown from seed, resulting [...] Read more.
The seeds of the dioecious shrub jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider) yield a liquid wax that is in high demand for the cosmetics industry. While elite female cultivars of this species are currently clonally propagated, male plants are grown from seed, resulting in large variations in both the flowering period and the pollen viability, and hence large variation in yields. We characterized the existing male plant material in a local plantation as a platform for future selection of elite male cultivars that would produce sufficient amounts of viable pollen throughout the extended flowering period of the female cultivars. Using as a guide the number of viable pollen grains per 1-m branch, defined here as the calculated effective pollen productivity (EPP), we identified plants with an elevated EPP that flower concurrently with the female cultivars. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Characterization of flowering time and pollen production in jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) towards a strategy for the selection of elite male genotypes

N. Tel-Zur, R. Rothschild, U. Zurgil, and Y. Vaknin

ABSTRACT: The seeds of the dioecious jojoba [Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider] shrub yield a liquid wax that is in high demand for the cosmetics industry. While elite female cultivars of this species are currently clonally propagated, male plants are grown from seeds, resulting in large variations in the flowering period and in pollen viability and hence in yields. We characterized the existing male plant material in a local plantation as a platform for future selection of elite male cultivars that would produce sufficient amounts of viable pollen throughout the extended flowering period of the female cultivars. Using as a guide the number of viable pollen grains per 1-m branch, defined here as the calculated "effective pollen productivity" (EPP), we identified plants with an elevated EPP that flower concurrently with the female cultivars.  

Keywords: dioecious; flowering time; phenological diversity; pollen viability

 

Characterization of Lebanese germplasm of snake melon (Cucumis melo subsp. melo L. var. flexuosus (L.) Naudin) using morphological traits and SSR markers

Joe Merheb1, Magdalena Pawełkowicz2,  Ferdinando Branca3, Hanna Bolibok-Brągoszewska2, Agnieszka Skarzyńska2, Wojciech Pląder2, Lamis Chalak1,*

Abstract: Snake melon (Cucumis melo subsp. melo L. var. flexuosus (L.) Naudin) is an ancient and traditional crop in the Mediterranean region. It is highly appreciated in Lebanon and is consumed when immature as fresh or pickled. Nevertheless, germplasm assessment has attributed poor interest to snake melon while its genetic resources have not been surveyed before despite their potential in adaptation to environmental changes. In this study, we assess the genetic diversity of snake melon landraces collected from different Lebanese regions at both morphological and molecular levels. Morphological characterization using a set of 18 descriptors revealed an important phenotypic variability among the landraces studied. Principle component analysis indicated that fruit hair and its consistency, fruit size and skin color pattern were good criteria for discriminating between landraces. Based on the scattered plot diagram, landraces of snake melon formed five different groups with one being defined as typical var. flexuosus. For the molecular characterization, 10 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used. Fifty six different alleles were detected, with an average of 5.6 alleles per locus. Polymorphism information content of SSR markers ranged from 0.06 to 0.84 (average 0.38). Cluster analysis based on molecular markers showed high genetic diversity and divided the landraces into five distinct genetic groups, confirming thereby the morphological variability. Findings of this study indicate a significant diversity for the Lebanese snake melon germplasm that must be further conserved and considered in improvement programs of this ancient crop.

Keywords: Armenian cucumber, fruit morphological descriptors, SSRs markers, germplasm diversity 

 

Effect of Transplanting Time and Tomato Genotypes in Association with Salicylic Acid on Various Morpho-Chemical Attributes Under Heat Stress Conditions

Muhammad Rashid Shaheen1,  Rashid Hussain2, Muhammad Nafees1, Ambreen Maqsood3*, Muhammad Aurangzaib4, Zulfiqar Ahmad5, Sajjad Ali6, Hafiz Nazar Faried7, Shehzad Iqbal8, Sunny Ahmar8 and Ferdinando Branca9*

Abstract: Heat stress is an important factor curtailing yield in summer crops, especially in semi-arid and sub-tropical areas of the world. It not only lowers the yield but also results in a squeezed growing season because of suppressed reproductive growth and hastened maturity. An experiment was designed under field settings to study the physiological and biochemical changes in various tomato genotypes owing the heat stress. Furthermore, salicylic acid (SA) mediated modulation of the processes was studied in relation to yield. The results revealed that SA enhanced the photosynthetic rate, intrinsic water use efficiency and chlorophyll contents. Whereas, transpiration rate showed non-significant change. Furthermore, significantly lowered electrolyte leakage, sub-stomatal CO2, stomatal conductance to water, leaf surface temperature was noted. These significant variations resulted in increased number of truss per plant, number of fruits per truss, number of fruits per plant, average fruit weight and ultimately per plants yield. It was concluded from the results that salicylic acid increased the heat tolerance in tomato plants under field conditions by altering the physiological processes. A more vibrant response was noted in tolerant genotypes as compared to the sensitive ones. It was further noted that SA induced heat resistance to a certain level of stress (44ºC) and became less effective under extreme conditions of high temperature (≥ 47ºC).

Keywords: Vegetables; Drought stress; High temperature; Photosynthesis; Fruit yield

 

 

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