Horticultural Crop Physiological Responses under Biotic and Abiotic Stress

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524). This special issue belongs to the section "Biotic and Abiotic Stress".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 14304

Special Issue Editors


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Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, Via Valdisavoia, 5-95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: ornamental plants; abiotic stresses; antioxidant enzymes; biodiversity; product quality; germination; light response
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
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
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Global climate change will determine the increase in semi-arid conditions that will significantly hamper the production and productivity of horticultural crops. Crop production is affected by a vast range of abiotic and biotic stresses today, such as drought, salinity, flooding, low or high temperatures, and pest and disease attacks. Most of these stresses will be more accentuated due to the effects of global climate change. The capacity of plants to address these stresses depends on their adaptation capacity. Tolerant plants may express different strategies to adapt or to avoid the negative effects. To forecast the effects of biotic and abiotic stresses and individuate the possible resistance mechanisms and/or to mitigate the negative effects of these stresses in crops, the study of physiological and biochemical responses in horticultural crops is of the highest importance. In this context, this Special Issue aims to collect original and quantitative studies focusing on the effects of biotic and abiotic stress on horticultural plants. Studies conducted on different crops in open fields or in controlled environments are welcome. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of the physiological and biochemical response mechanisms to stress.

Dr. Stefania Toscano
Prof. Dr. Daniela Romano
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • gas exchange
  • chlorophyll a fluorescence
  • enzyme activity
  • ROS production
  • biotic and abiotic stress

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 2833 KiB  
Article
Sensitivity and Regulation of Diel Photosynthesis in Red-Fleshed Pitaya (Hylocereus polyrhizus) Micropropagules under Mannitol-Induced Water Stress/Rehydration Cycle In Vitro
by Yu-Chi Lee and Jer-Chia Chang
Horticulturae 2024, 10(3), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10030235 - 28 Feb 2024
Viewed by 692
Abstract
Climate change-induced prolonged water stress (WS) affects crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis in pitaya (Hylocereus), limiting crop productivity through insufficient photosynthate. To document how WS/rehydration affects diel photosynthesis, red-fleshed pitaya (H. polyrhizus) micropropagules were studied for 5 weeks in a [...] Read more.
Climate change-induced prolonged water stress (WS) affects crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis in pitaya (Hylocereus), limiting crop productivity through insufficient photosynthate. To document how WS/rehydration affects diel photosynthesis, red-fleshed pitaya (H. polyrhizus) micropropagules were studied for 5 weeks in a mannitol-induced water potential gradient replaced with moderate (MWS; −1.0 MPa in week 2; −0.5 MPa for the rest) or intensified (IWS; −1.0 and −1.5 MPa in weeks 2 and 3; −0.5 MPa for the rest) WS in vitro. Net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and integrated net CO2 uptake (INCU) were measured using an Arduino-based photosynthesis system. Micropropagules under MWS had similar Pn in weeks 5 and 1, whereas the control (−0.5 MPa) increased. Pn recovery did not occur after IWS. The average relative INCU was similar in the control and MWS, but lower in IWS. The Pn difference increased with WS, becoming more evident at dawn (Phase II), evening (Phase IV), and predawn the next day (Phase I), and occurred earlier in Phases IV and I under IWS. MWS did not reduce photosynthesis, demonstrating that the photosynthetic regulation could respond to short-term WS in pitaya and indicating the potential of watering for Pn recovery at evening and predawn under IWS. Full article
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19 pages, 6046 KiB  
Article
Physiological and Productive Responses of Two Vitis vinifera L. Cultivars across Three Sites in Central-South Italy
by Filippo Ferlito, Elisabetta Nicolosi, Angelo Sicilia, Clizia Villano, Riccardo Aversano and Angela Roberta Lo Piero
Horticulturae 2023, 9(12), 1321; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9121321 - 08 Dec 2023
Viewed by 803
Abstract
Grapevine adaptation to drought involves morphological, anatomical, and physiological modifications that could be viewed as a measure of drought avoidance. The main vine responses to drought consist of the regulation of carbon assimilation as a consequence of limited stomatal conductance, which is reflected [...] Read more.
Grapevine adaptation to drought involves morphological, anatomical, and physiological modifications that could be viewed as a measure of drought avoidance. The main vine responses to drought consist of the regulation of carbon assimilation as a consequence of limited stomatal conductance, which is reflected in changes in plant water status. In this factorial study (2020–2021 growing seasons), two red cultivars, the local ‘Aglianico’, widely grown in Central-South Italy, and the international ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’, were used to evaluate how their interaction in three different environments can modify physiological adaptations and how yields and their qualitative traits can be modified. The lowest leaf water potential (−0.68 Mpa) for the two cultivars was registered in Molise, while the most stressed vine was found in Sicily for Aglianico (−1.86 MPa). At least in two of three locations, Molise and Campania, the detected stomatal conductance and the leaf water potential have shown that Cabernet Sauvignon can be classified as a near-isohydric cultivar, whereas Aglianico can be categorized as a near-anisohydric cultivar. The interactions between genotype x environment highlight different levels of adaptability between the two cultivars in different sites during each season. The data presented here contribute to a better understanding of the effects of genotype and environment interactions in progressive dry cultivation and how these interactions can modify the qualitative traits of grapes. Full article
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16 pages, 1608 KiB  
Article
Effects of Light Intensity and Water Stress on Growth, Photosynthetic Characteristics and Plant Survival of Cistus heterophyllus Desf. Subsp. carthaginensis (Pau) M. B. Crespo & Mateo
by María José Gómez-Bellot, María Jesús Sánchez-Blanco, Beatriz Lorente, María José Vicente-Colomer and María Fernanda Ortuño
Horticulturae 2023, 9(8), 878; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9080878 - 02 Aug 2023
Viewed by 988
Abstract
The objective of this study was to identify the physiological mechanisms used by Cistus heterophyllus Desf. Subsp. carthaginensis (Pau) M. B. Crespo & Mateo, a species in critical danger of extinction, to cope with two typical abiotic conditions. During the summer of 2021, [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to identify the physiological mechanisms used by Cistus heterophyllus Desf. Subsp. carthaginensis (Pau) M. B. Crespo & Mateo, a species in critical danger of extinction, to cope with two typical abiotic conditions. During the summer of 2021, plants were cultivated under a shade mesh that intercepted 50% of the incident solar radiation (SHADE) and in natural conditions (SUN). Three irrigation treatments were also applied: control, T1, moderate water deficit; T2, 60% of the control, severe deficit; and T3, 30% of the control. Therefore, there were six treatments (SUN-T1, SUN-T2, SUN-T3, SHADE-T1, SHADE-T2, SHADE-T3). Plants were more affected by solar radiation than by deficit irrigation. Although leaf water potential, stomatal conductance and root biomass decreased by up to 45%, 63% and 65%, respectively, as deficit irrigation increased, plants were able to develop a leaf osmotic adjustment and an improved intrinsic water-use efficiency to maintain their growth and survival rate. Shade conditions improved gas exchange, reduced leaf temperature and induced the synthesis of chlorophylls, regardless of the irrigation level imposed. This indicated that radiation was the most limiting factor in our experiment. Applying 50% of the radiation and a moderate water deficit would help to obtain a good plant development and high survival rate in future recovery and conservation programs for the species. Full article
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15 pages, 6431 KiB  
Article
Efficient Cold Tolerance Evaluation of Four Species of Liliaceae Plants through Cell Death Measurement and Lethal Temperature Prediction
by Woo-Hyeong Yang, Seong-Hyeon Yong, Dong-Jin Park, Sung-Jin Ahn, Do-Hyun Kim, Kwan-Been Park, Eon-Ju Jin and Myung-Suk Choi
Horticulturae 2023, 9(7), 751; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9070751 - 28 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 942
Abstract
Although Liliaceae are valuable resource plants with medicinal and edible uses, techniques for evaluating their tolerance to various abiotic stresses are very limited. This study evaluated the cold tolerance using visual inspection, electrolyte leakage, and Evan’s blue assay. Visual inspection of the responses [...] Read more.
Although Liliaceae are valuable resource plants with medicinal and edible uses, techniques for evaluating their tolerance to various abiotic stresses are very limited. This study evaluated the cold tolerance using visual inspection, electrolyte leakage, and Evan’s blue assay. Visual inspection of the responses to different temperatures, using a temperature range of 4 to −12 °C, showed that Scilla scilloides was receive the least damage. However, electrolyte leakage tests showed slightly different results from visual inspection. The median lethal temperature (LT50) was expected to be between −4 and −8 °C. The LT50 was considered a measure of damage due to electrolyte leakage in plant cold tolerance evaluation. As a result of predicting the lethal temperature using the logistic regression equation, the average LT50 of the four plants was −9.0 °C. The species with the lowest LT50 was measured for Hosta plantagines (−11.14°C), whereas the highest LT50 was measured for Hemerocallis fulva (−7.14°C). As a result of the Evan’s blue assay, it was found that cell necrosis occurred when the plants were exposed to low temperatures. Visual observation showed that more than 50% of the three plants’ cells, except for H. plantaginea, were stained blue even at 8 °C. From this result, H. plantaginea was judged to have strong low-temperature tolerance. At −12 °C, more than 50% of the four Liliaceae plants were colored blue, and the LT50 value was expected to be below −12 °C. The reducing sugar content, an indicator of plant cold tolerance, was the highest in H. plantaginea, followed by S. scilloide and H. longipes. Combining the three methods, H. plantaginea had the highest cold tolerance, followed by H. longipes, S. scilloides, and H. fulva. The results of this study will be widely used in selecting cold-tolerant useful resource plants. Full article
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14 pages, 5647 KiB  
Article
Managing Water Stress in Olive (Olea europaea L.) Orchards Using Reference Equations for Midday Stem Water Potential
by Marta Sánchez-Piñero, Mireia Corell, Alfonso Moriana, Pedro Castro-Valdecantos and María-José Martin-Palomo
Horticulturae 2023, 9(5), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9050563 - 09 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1917
Abstract
The irrigation surface of olive orchards has increased over recent decades. In zones affected, deficit irrigation scheduling is a must. The aim of this work was to study water stress management based on reference equations for midday stem water potential. An experiment was [...] Read more.
The irrigation surface of olive orchards has increased over recent decades. In zones affected, deficit irrigation scheduling is a must. The aim of this work was to study water stress management based on reference equations for midday stem water potential. An experiment was conducted over three seasons in Seville (Spain) from 2020 to 2022. A young hedgerow olive orchard (cv Manzanilla de Sevilla) was irrigated using three different treatments: Control (full irrigated), RDI, and Rainfed, in a completely randomized design (six replications). The midday stem water potential and leaf conductance were measured throughout the three seasons. Stem water potential was more sensitive to water stress than leaf conductance and showed a clearer impact and rehydration. Individual data of stem water potential were grouped according to leaf conductance reduction. The relationship of these stem water potentials and temperature or vapor pressure deficit was significant, linear, and aligned to published baselines. Scattering in these equations increased when the leaf conductance reduction was greater. These reference equations would be useful to define moderate water stress conditions in the most sensitive processes, such as vegetative or fruit growth. Definition of severe water stress conditions would be better established with constant values. Full article
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14 pages, 3077 KiB  
Article
Optimization of Applied Irrigation Water for High Marketable Yield, Fruit Quality and Economic Benefits of Processing Tomato Using a Low-Cost Wireless Sensor
by Antonio El Chami, Raffaele Cortignani, Davide Dell’Unto, Roberto Mariotti, Piero Santelli, Roberto Ruggeri, Giuseppe Colla and Mariateresa Cardarelli
Horticulturae 2023, 9(3), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9030390 - 17 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
Water management is a key factor to optimize fruit quality and yield of processing tomatoes which are site-specific and influenced by environmental conditions e.g., soil, temperature, precipitation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacity of a low-cost wireless soil moisture [...] Read more.
Water management is a key factor to optimize fruit quality and yield of processing tomatoes which are site-specific and influenced by environmental conditions e.g., soil, temperature, precipitation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacity of a low-cost wireless soil moisture sensor in determining the irrigation level for optimizing the marketable yield, fruit quality and economic profit of processing tomato. A two-years (2017–2018) trial was conducted in open field, applying nine drip irrigation levels controlled by wireless soil moisture capacitance sensors. The irrigation levels were as follows: 13.2, 16.7, 25.4, 33.3, 50.0, 62.3, 82.5, 100 and 186.8% of water restitution based on soil moisture sensor readings. Because of the crop stress induced by heavy rainfalls occurring in 2018 growing season, total and marketable yields reached higher maximum values in 2017 than 2018. In 2017, total and marketable yields were maximized by supplying 92.8% and 96.2% of irrigation level, respectively. Moreover, 95.6% and 91.2% of irrigation level were necessary in 2018 to maximize total and marketable yield, respectively. In both growing seasons, marketable yield variation was due to changes of both fruit number and fruit mean weight. Total soluble solids of fruit juice linearly decreased by increasing the irrigation level with a more pronounced effect in the driest growing season (2017). Economic analysis demonstrated that 100% of irrigation level should be preferred by the Italian farmers since it maximized the operating margins of processing tomatoes in both years. To conclude, the use of the tested low-cost wireless soil moisture sensor is an effective tool to manage the level of irrigation and optimize the processing tomato yield and economic benefits for farmers. Full article
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16 pages, 5548 KiB  
Article
Low Nitrogen Stress Promotes Root Nitrogen Uptake and Assimilation in Strawberry: Contribution of Hormone Networks
by Wenjie Zhang, Ting Zhang, Jia Zhang, Weiwei Lei, Lin Zhao, Shuai Wang, Mengyun Shi and Meng Wei
Horticulturae 2023, 9(2), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9020249 - 12 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1780
Abstract
Low nitrogen stress severely impedes crop growth and productivity. There has been substantial research on root adaptation to low nitrogen conditions in many plant species. However, the mechanism underlying the morphological response of the strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) root to low-NO [...] Read more.
Low nitrogen stress severely impedes crop growth and productivity. There has been substantial research on root adaptation to low nitrogen conditions in many plant species. However, the mechanism underlying the morphological response of the strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) root to low-NO3 or low-NH4+ stress remains poorly understood. Strawberry plants were hydroponically cultivated under 1 mM NO3, 1 mM NH4+, and control (15 mM NO3) conditions to assess the physiological responses of their roots to low nitrogen stress. As a result, low nitrogen stresses increased the fresh weight of root, lateral root density, and root surface area, as well as enhanced the accumulation of indole-3-acetic acid and jasmonic acid while significantly reducing salicylic acid in the roots. Correspondingly, low nitrogen stresses increased PM H+-ATPase activity. Low-NO3 stress enhanced the activities of nitrate reductase and glutamine synthetase, whereas low-NH4+ treatment led to higher glutamine synthetase and glutamate synthase activities. Collectively, the present results demonstrate that low nitrogen stresses enhance nitrogen uptake of strawberry roots by regulating hormones (indole-3-acetic acid, jasmonic acid, and salicylic acid) and thereby mediating PM H+-ATPase activity, while promoting nitrogen metabolism by upregulating the activities of nitrate reductase, glutamine synthetase, and glutamate synthase. In conclusion, low nitrogen conditions may facilitate more efficient acquisition of available N from the soil by strawberry root system. Full article
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15 pages, 3372 KiB  
Article
Variability in the Agronomic Behavior of 12 White Grapevine Varieties Grown under Severe Water Stress Conditions in the La Mancha Wine Region
by A. Sergio Serrano, Jesús Martínez-Gascueña, Gonzalo L. Alonso, Cristina Cebrián-Tarancón, M. Dolores Carmona, Adela Mena Morales and Juan L. Chacón-Vozmediano
Horticulturae 2023, 9(2), 243; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9020243 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1303
Abstract
Viticulture around the world is currently affected by climate change, which is causing an increasing scarcity of water resources necessary for the maintenance of vineyards. Despite the drought hardiness of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.), this threat seriously compromises its cultivation in the [...] Read more.
Viticulture around the world is currently affected by climate change, which is causing an increasing scarcity of water resources necessary for the maintenance of vineyards. Despite the drought hardiness of grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.), this threat seriously compromises its cultivation in the near future, particularly in wine-growing areas with a semi-arid climate. Identifying varieties capable of producing suitable yields and good-quality grapes under drought conditions is integral to ensuring the sustainability of the wine sector. This study focuses on vines from both minority and widely grown varieties, which were supplied only with the water intended to ensure their survival. The carbon and oxygen isotope ratios, yield, and quality parameters were evaluated on the vines and musts during the period of 2018–2020. The results revealed that not all varieties responded equally well to drought. Albillo Real, Coloraillo, Macabeo, and Verdejo adapted well to drought conditions, simultaneously maintaining high yields and must quality. By contrast, Pedro Ximénez can be considered poorly adapted. This variety was the one that produced the lowest yield and had low acidity levels in the must. Full article
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14 pages, 2427 KiB  
Article
Priming Watermelon Resistance by Activating Physiological Response and Defense Gene Expression to Alleviate Fusarium Wilt in Wheat-Watermelon Intercropping
by Huifang Lv, Junyang Lu, Yuan Huang, Mingxia Wang, Congsheng Yan and Zhilong Bie
Horticulturae 2023, 9(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9010027 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1598
Abstract
Wheat intercropping in watermelon could provide relief from the occurrence of Fusarium wilting of watermelon, a severe soil-borne disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum (FON). The current study aims to investigate the effect of root exudates from three wheat [...] Read more.
Wheat intercropping in watermelon could provide relief from the occurrence of Fusarium wilting of watermelon, a severe soil-borne disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum (FON). The current study aims to investigate the effect of root exudates from three wheat cultivars and one watermelon cultivar on the growth of FON and the responses of Fusarium wilt in watermelon to intercropping with wheat. The results revealed the contrasting effects of root exudates on the mycelial growth of FON; the wheat root exudates inhibited the mycelial growth of FON, and watermelon root exudates promoted the mycelial growth of FON. Watermelon plants suffered less Fusarium wilt in the intercropping system than in the monocropping system. Wheat intercropping reduced the incidence of Fusarium wilt in watermelon, and this effect was associated with the role of wheat root exudates that inhibited the growth of FON. Malondialdehyde (MDA) contents decreased in the intercropping system compared with the monocropping system after FON inoculation. The catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) activities, and total phenolics and flavonoid contents in the roots of watermelon in the intercropping system were significantly higher than those in the monocropping system. Real-time PCR analysis showed that ClCAT, ClSOD, ClAPX, and ClPPO defensive enzymes and ClPDF2.1 and ClPDF2.4 defensin-like gene expression were significantly induced during the early stage after FON inoculation in the intercropping system compared to the monocropping system, while peroxidases did not show a significant response to FON infection. It is suggested that intercropping with wheat alleviates Fusarium wilt of watermelon by reducing the population of FON in rhizospheric soil and activating physiological responses and defense gene expression to protect watermelon from FON infection and improve the resistance of watermelon to FON in the intercropping system. Full article
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Review

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15 pages, 2589 KiB  
Review
γ Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): A Key Player in Alleviating Abiotic Stress Resistance in Horticultural Crops: Current Insights and Future Directions
by Faisal Hayat, Ummara Khan, Juan Li, Nazir Ahmed, Fakhara Khanum, Shahid Iqbal, Muhammad Ahsan Altaf, Jalil Ahmad, Hafiz Umer Javed, Yang Peng, Xiaoyan Ma, Panfeng Tu, Jiezhong Chen and Muhammad Adnan Shahid
Horticulturae 2023, 9(6), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9060647 - 31 May 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1944
Abstract
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a non-protein amino acid known for its role in the nervous system of animals. However, research has also revealed its presence and function in plants recently. In plants, GABA is a signal molecule involved in multiple physiological processes, including [...] Read more.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a non-protein amino acid known for its role in the nervous system of animals. However, research has also revealed its presence and function in plants recently. In plants, GABA is a signal molecule involved in multiple physiological processes, including stress response, growth, and development. This review aims to present a thorough summary of the current knowledge regarding the role of GABA in plants. We begin by discussing the biosynthesis and transport of GABA in plants, followed by a detailed examination of its signaling mechanisms. Additionally, we explore GABA's potential roles in various plant physiological processes, such as abiotic stress response, and its potential application in horticultural plants. Finally, we highlight current challenges and future directions for research in this area. Overall, this review offers a comprehensive understanding of the significance of GABA in plants and its potential implications for plant physiology and crop improvement. Full article
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