Crop Authenticity in Organic Horticultural Production: Recent Studies and Applications

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2024 | Viewed by 5380

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA)—Research Center for Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops, Corso Savoia 190, 95024 Acireale, Italy
Interests: citrus bioactive compounds; recovery of high value compounds from fruit processing wastes; mild food processing; quality of foods; traceability of organic food productions
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Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics - Research Centre for Agriculture and Environment (CREA-AA), Via Celso Ulpiani 5, 70125 Bari, Italy
Interests: agronomy; organic farming; composting process, compost application and organic fertilization; sustainable development; crop rotations and cropping systems; agro-ecosystem techniques; nutrient management, efficiency, and balance
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Traceability Unit, Research and Innovation Center, Edmund Mach Foundation (FEM), Via E. Mach, 1, 38098 San Michele all’Adige, Italy
Interests: food chemistry; isotope ratio mass spectrometry; nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; traceability; authentication

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, demand for organic products has grown as consumers consider them to be safer and healthier than conventional ones. Research has been conducted over the years to investigate old and new reliable systems for testing the authenticity of products obtained using organic cultivation methods.

This Special Issue welcomes original research articles, short communications and review articles on different agronomic practices and techniques (such as fertilization and pest management) that address crop authenticity in organic agriculture.

We welcome research that focuses on the application of approaches to tracking chemical components and/or gene transcript levels derived from the primary and/or secondary metabolism of organic and conventional products. We also accept papers that discuss the isotopic distribution of elements and that highlight the diversity induced by conventional and organic production techniques with the final aim of establishing new tools for organic horticultural crop characterisation and authenticity. The use of spectroscopic techniques and metabolomics is of interest in this Special Issue, as is the application of agronomic practices in organic cropping systems. Finally, we welcome data analysis through chemometrics tools that enable the validation of multivariate implemented approaches.

Dr. Simona Fabroni
Dr. Francesco Montemurro
Dr. Luana Bontempo
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. Horticulturae 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 2200 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

  • organic horticultural practices and production
  • chemical metabolites
  • gene transcripts
  • isotopic ratios
  • multivariate analysis
  • chemometrics

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

19 pages, 980 KiB  
Article
Biological Control of Pseudomonas syringae in Tomato Using Filtrates and Extracts Produced by Alternaria leptinellae
by Carlos García-Latorre, Sara Rodrigo and Oscar Santamaria
Horticulturae 2024, 10(4), 334; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae10040334 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 444
Abstract
Endophytic fungi offer promising alternatives for sustainable plant disease management strategies, often through the production of bioactive secondary metabolites. This study investigated the biocontrol potential of filtrates and extracts, produced under controlled conditions, from Alternaria leptinellae E138 against Pseudomonas syringae in tomato plants [...] Read more.
Endophytic fungi offer promising alternatives for sustainable plant disease management strategies, often through the production of bioactive secondary metabolites. This study investigated the biocontrol potential of filtrates and extracts, produced under controlled conditions, from Alternaria leptinellae E138 against Pseudomonas syringae in tomato plants under greenhouse conditions. To understand the main mechanisms involved in biocontrol, the direct inhibition of bacterial growth and disruption of quorum sensing activity caused by metabolites were studied in vitro, as well as indirect mechanisms, such as their capacity to produce phytohormone-like substances, nutrient mobilization, and antioxidant activity, which can enhance plant growth and fitness. Moreover, a mass spectrometry analysis was used to tentatively identify the secondary metabolites present in the extract with antimicrobial properties, which could explain the biocontrol effects observed. Mycopriming assays, involving the direct treatment of tomato seeds with the fungal A. leptinellae E138 extracts, produced increased germination rates and seedling vigor in tomato seeds. As another treatment, postemergence application of the extracts in greenhouse conditions significantly improved plant health and resulted in a 41% decrease in disease severity. Overall, this study underscores the potential of A. leptinellae E138 extract as a plant growth promoter with biocontrol capabilities, offering promising avenues for sustainable plant disease management. Full article
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7 pages, 511 KiB  
Communication
Innovative Tools for the Nitrogen Fertilization Traceability of Organic Farming Products
by Simona Fabroni, Luana Bontempo, Gabriele Campanelli, Stefano Canali and Francesco Montemurro
Horticulturae 2023, 9(6), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9060723 - 20 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
In the last decades, consumers have become increasingly interested in organic products, and they strongly demand reliability in the traceability of the organic products they buy and eat. Several research methods have been developed in the last decades to study inexperienced and reliable [...] Read more.
In the last decades, consumers have become increasingly interested in organic products, and they strongly demand reliability in the traceability of the organic products they buy and eat. Several research methods have been developed in the last decades to study inexperienced and reliable systems and to assess the authenticity of products obtained using organic cultivation practices. The monitoring of some chemical compounds, originating from primary and/or secondary metabolism, in horticultural organic and conventional products has shown the diversity generated using the two production approaches. The difference in fertilization practices has been also shown to have an effect on the isotopic distribution of some elements, with particular reference to nitrogen. An integrated system is proposed to evaluate the validity of organic goods using collected isotopic data and other chemical and biological parameters. This approach is intended to be coupled to the application of chemometric multivariate analysis on quality and nutraceutical parameters combined with isotopic data. Indeed, this will give the opportunity to discriminate organic from conventional products based on different isotopic signatures, due to the different nitrogenous sources, combined with the qualitative profile of the crops, which are significantly affected by the different agronomic treatments. The main perspectives of the presented integrated approach, based on the combined use of chemometric and analytical tools, are linked to the feasibility of applying a reliable system for traceability. This will authenticate productions obtained using organic fertilizers (organic agriculture) with respect to those obtained with the use of synthetic fertilizers (conventional agriculture), protect and valorize virtuous farmers and support political stakeholders and decision-makers to counteract food fraud. Full article
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20 pages, 1718 KiB  
Article
Effects of Organic and Conventional Cultivation on Composition and Characterization of Two Citrus Varieties ‘Navelina’ Orange and ‘Clemenules’ Mandarin Fruits in a Long-Term Study
by Alfons Domínguez-Gento, Rosita Di Giorgi, María Dolores García-Martínez and María Dolores Raigón
Horticulturae 2023, 9(6), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9060721 - 19 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1318
Abstract
A transition towards an organic food system is taking place around the world. This process is favored by growing consumer demand, who associate organic crops with being healthier, tastier, and safer for the environment than conventional crops. Citrus is one of the most [...] Read more.
A transition towards an organic food system is taking place around the world. This process is favored by growing consumer demand, who associate organic crops with being healthier, tastier, and safer for the environment than conventional crops. Citrus is one of the most widely produced crops worldwide and has important socio-economic and cultural significance in the Mediterranean area. The aim of this work is twofold; on the one hand, it reveals the variability of a set of physical–chemical and nutritional quality parameters of two citrus fruit varieties, ‘Navelina’ oranges and ‘Clemenules’ mandarins, from organic and conventional production in a long-term study. On the other hand, taking advantage of the large number of results, a model is proposed that allows the successful differentiation of citrus fruits from organic and conventional production and a tool that allows predicting the production system of citrus fruits. The results suggest that organically produced citrus fruits do not generate differences in terms of external aspects, providing fruits that are acceptable to the market. Organic production techniques influenced the lower peel content and higher pulp and juice content in ‘Navelina’ orange and ‘Clemenules’ mandarin fruits and led to a greater ability to synthesize vitamin C in the juice, more essential oils in the skin, and higher seed numbers, although in all cases, the fruits can be classified as having low seed numbers. Two discriminating equations were obtained that use easy-to-measure parameters to successfully classify organic citrus fruits. The classification and prediction models obtained constitute useful tools to help in the control of the purity/authenticity of organic citrus fruits. Full article
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16 pages, 2462 KiB  
Article
A Novel Approach for Organic Strawberry Cultivation: Vermicompost-Based Fertilization and Microbial Complementary Nutrition
by Neslihan Kilic, Hayriye Yildiz Dasgan and Nazim S. Gruda
Horticulturae 2023, 9(6), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae9060642 - 30 May 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
This study investigated the effects of vermicompost fertilization with complementary microbial nutrition on the plant growth, yield, and fruit quality of the organically grown strawberry “Monterey” cultivar. Along with vermicompost, five different microbial fertilizers containing plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) [...] Read more.
This study investigated the effects of vermicompost fertilization with complementary microbial nutrition on the plant growth, yield, and fruit quality of the organically grown strawberry “Monterey” cultivar. Along with vermicompost, five different microbial fertilizers containing plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) were used as complementary nutrition. Here, we examined plant growth parameters, strawberry yield, fruit weight, pH, total soluble solids, and acidity in fruit and leaf mineral nutrient concentrations. Vermicompost-based fertilization with PGPR and AMF improved plant growth, yield, and fruit quality. The highest total yield (216.75 g per plant−1) and heaviest fruits with an average of 18.11 g were obtained from the vermicompost-based fertilization with PGPR containing complementary fertilization. This included Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus megaterium, Trichoderma harzianum, and Trichoderma konigii. This treatment also resulted in the best ratio of total soluble solids to acidity (18.74), pH (3.95), and mineral nutrient concentrations in leaves. The novel approach with vermicompost-based fertilization and complementary microbial nutrition improves organic strawberries’ growth, yield, and fruit quality. These results are promising for enhancing organic strawberry production. Full article
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